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Quorn introduces carbon footprint labels

Every company should have to do this– more useful information that consumers need.

Recently I wrote about how I was going to try and live a 1.5 degree lifestyle, which meant I had to keep my carbon footprint to less than 2.5 tonnes per year. One of the biggest contributors to a personal footprint is food; an average American diet blows the carbon budget all on its own. But as I note in my recent post, it's really hard to accurately determine what the actual carbon footprint of food is.

That's why it's so wonderful that Quorn is putting its carbon footprint right on its label.

I have never tasted Quorn, which according to Wikipedia contains “mycoprotein as an ingredient, which is derived from the Fusarium venenatum fungus and is grown by fermentation. In most Quorn products, the fungus culture is dried and mixed with egg albumen, which acts as a binder, and then is adjusted in texture and pressed into various forms.” But TreeHugger emeritus Sami wrote:

I am a meat eater, yet I really like Quorn. In fact—perhaps ironically, given the health-promoting benefits that this meat substitute claims—I view it as kind of a guilty pleasure: A dip into processed, frozen foods when I get sick of eating grass-fed burgers.

But as Sami noted five years ago, the company was working hard to reduce its carbon footprint. Now we have this: a real calculation of the footprint of each serving, calculated from farm to fork. Peter Harrison, chief executive of Quorn Foods, is quoted in the Guardian:

This is about giving people the information needed to make informed decisions about the food they eat and the effect it has on our planet’s climate – in the same way that nutrition information is clearly labelled to help inform decisions on health.

Emissions from farm to fork© Emissions from farm to fork/ Carbon Trust

It's all independently certified by the Carbon Trust, with the whole transparent process published on their website.

Hugh Jones, managing director for the Carbon Trust, said: “We are really excited to be working with Quorn to certify their product carbon footprint data and help improve communication to its customers. It's really important that consumers have robust information to help inform their purchases and we're pleased to be able to work with Quorn on this.

Carbon content of all their foods© Carbon content of all their foods/ Quorn

I have never been a big fan of “fake food” as an alternative to the real thing, agreeing with Joanna Blythman of the Guardian, who wrote a few years ago about Quorn and other fake meats:

Quorn, in common with other fake meats, is incontestably ultra-processed. Evidently, this is not an issue for the animal welfare, vegetarian and vegan groups that hail such confections as a potential end to animal slaughter and the misery of factory farming. Some people will eat almost anything as long as no animals were involved in its creation. But that proposition appeals less to those who prefer to base their meals on natural, minimally processed ingredients that they can easily recognise as food.

But the world is changing fast. As TreeHugger Katherine recently noted, TreeHugger hero George Monbiot has made a pitch for lab-grown food, writing that “the new technologies I call farm-free food create astonishing possibilities to save both people and planet.”

It would certainly be easier to really know what the carbon footprint is when it comes out of a lab. Perhaps we should all get used to it.

Every company should have to do this– more useful information that consumers need.