The climate calculator for your kitchen

The climate calculator for your kitchen

Schnitzel, Käsespätzle or do you prefer Spaghetti Bolognese? Here you can calculate how climate-friendly your own recipes are.

Schnitzel, Käsespätzle or do you prefer Spaghetti Bolognese? Here you can calculate how climate-friendly your own recipes are.

Eating more climate-friendly is not that easy. Is a fillet of salmon better than a mackerel? Should you have cashews for a snack or do you prefer pistachios? Is lentil soup more climate-friendly than scrambled eggs with fried potatoes and spinach? Our interactive calculator shows the amount of CO₂ generated by a dish. You can enter your own recipe or view examples.

You will then also receive an evaluation indicating whether the dish is more climate-friendly or more harmful. It is important to note that emissions alone are not taken into account for this assessment. It also takes into account the part of our daily nutrient needs that is covered by food – for example in terms of fat, protein, but also in terms of nutritional weight. A dish that covers a large part of our needs is considered more climate-friendly than a dish that contributes little. It is therefore possible that dishes with the same CO₂ value are rated differently. In addition, portions are standardized so that dishes with very high nutritional value or oversized portions are not automatically more harmful to the climate.

The Eaternity team chose this method because otherwise the ‘climate-damaging’ result would still be displayed to people who eat larger portions. And the nutritional value is normalized so that some dishes with huge mass but almost no nutritional value are not misclassified.

If you are cooking for several people, you can simply indicate how many servings the ingredients are for. The emissions per serving are then displayed on the right.

How are these values ​​composed? We explain the exact method in this article:

But here we answer the most important questions.

What does the calculator show?

The calculator adds up the CO₂ emissions of each food item and shows how much CO₂ a dish generates per serving. On the right is shown which ingredients count for how much in the balance sheet. The calculator shows how climate-friendly a dish is – in terms of nutrient content, serving size or calorie content of the food. Depending on the rating, this may vary. The climate compatibility of a meal can best be assessed with the help of nutrients.

So you can see how you can make your food more climate-friendly with just a few changes. It is often enough to replace a single ingredient or use less to significantly improve the CO₂ balance. You can enter your favorite dishes into the calculator and see which ingredients are most important.

From farmer to fork to waste incineration plant: What is the composition of the CO₂ value of a dish?

CO₂ emissions result from the journey of food from the field through the factory and wholesale trade to the plate. All of these steps generate emissions – the disposal of leftovers and packaging also causes emissions. The calculator also takes them into account. However, emissions related to packaging, transport from the supermarket to the home and electricity consumption for cooking are not included. The data comes from Easterity AG, a Swiss company that advises restaurateurs and businesses on how to calculate their ecological footprint.

How is the average dish on which the rating is based calculated?

The company Eaternity determined the carbon footprint of 76,034 dishes and calculated that an average of 3994 grams of CO₂ per day is consumed to meet daily nutrient needs. Calculator flats are compared to this value. We classify dishes as good for the climate as dishes that emit less CO₂ than a comparable average dish in order to cover a similar share of the nutritional requirements.

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Depending on whether foods are compared on the basis of nutrients or calories, some dishes are rated differently despite similar CO₂ emissions. A food that provides many important nutrients tends to be considered more climate-friendly. The same goes – vice versa, of course – for the “bad” designation. A meal is labeled as very good or very bad if it generates less than half or more than double the CO₂, also converted into nutritional value. By comparing the climate according to portions and calories, we only show the difference with the average dish.

What is a CO₂ equivalent?

CO₂ equivalents are a unit that makes it even easier to classify whether a food is good for the climate. Because the production of certain foods emits not only CO₂ but also methane. It is another greenhouse gas that is also harmful to the climate. However, if only CO₂ emissions were calculated, methane would not be included. This would improve the balance sheet.

The calculator takes this into account by displaying not only CO₂ emissions, but also so-called “CO₂ equivalents”. Methane gas emissions are converted into CO₂ emissions using a scientific method. This is the only way to compare foods to each other in terms of climate footprint.

Seasonality, packaging, CO₂ consumption during cooking: what the calculator does not take into account

The values ​​displayed by the calculator are intended to provide guidance. But they are definitely not. Because these are average values ​​- it can happen, for example, that the balance of a food product is much better in summer than in winter because it is not imported or because it is ripened in the sun rather than in a heated greenhouse. Calculator values ​​show average food balances. The average is calculated from tomatoes that have ripened under the Brandenburg sun and their winter counterparts from heated greenhouses. In some cases, the climate balance may be significantly better or worse than what the computer indicates.

Even if a food is purchased unpackaged and not in a plastic tray, the balance sheet improves. But only a little, because most of the emissions come from the very beginning: in agricultural production. The tool also does not calculate the amount of gas or electricity used when cooking a dish.

The Climate Calculator is part of a series on food and climate. Here you can see the latest video about Berlin’s Indian cuisine and its carbon footprint:

And of course, when it comes to climate protection, it’s not just one meal that counts. But on the quantity and eating behavior over longer periods. A fillet of beef (200 grams) can be extremely harmful to the climate with 11,156 grams of CO₂. But vegetarian eating behavior can be just as bad for the climate over a longer period of time: Anyone who eats a fillet of beef once a month, but otherwise follows a particularly climate-friendly diet, consumes about as much CO₂ as person who eats parmesan every day for a month Food gives: 11,340 grams (378 grams per 40 gram serving times 30 days).

This is another reason why it makes sense to experiment with the computer. This way you can evaluate your own eating behavior on the basis of facts and find out which foods disturb your personal CO₂ balance. Even replacing beef or even pork with chicken can make a big difference. Not to mention the tofu.

All articles and videos in the series

Papaya & Fries: The New Video Series

Restaurateur Daeng Khamlao is in an inner conflict. For the native Thai, Asian cuisine is part of her identity. Ingredients are often imported from afar and are therefore not necessarily climate-friendly or sustainable. How can Daeng cook in a climate-friendly way without giving up dishes from her homeland?

In the new video series that the Tagesspiegel has produced with the Berlin production company Schuldberg Films, she goes in search of a solution to the dilemma. Daeng, who runs the restaurant “Panda Noodle” in Kreuzberg, visits various international restaurants and catering professionals in Berlin in five episodes and is shown his kitchens. She’s trying to figure out: How bad for the climate is what kind of cooking is it really? Can you substitute well-traveled ingredients in Thai, African or Indian dishes with local ingredients? Or is it perhaps not necessary at all? She finds some unusual dishes along the way – and maybe also a little something from the Berlin kitchens of the future.

In the first episode, Daeng meets nutritional economist Ann-Cathrin Beermann and shows her his own cooking. You can see it on tagesspiegel.de or on YouTube.

Writers

Released on January 12, 2022.
Last updated January 31, 2022.