We suspect that nature requires a certain amount of energy to build building blocks like proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The energy is available in the form of feed in the case of animals and light in the case of plants. So, throughout the lifetime of these organisms, the energy input is dispatched over the different building blocks. The hypothesis is that if we have the key for dispatching energy over the main building blocks, we would be able to estimate the environmental impact of food products based on their macronutrients composition.
During the project, the metabolic pathways and production processes of different food groups will be analyzed. The main food groups of interest will be: beef, pork, poultry, C3 plants and C4 plants.
The objective is to have more insights on the footprint of food products and investigate whether there is a relationship between macronutrients composition and environmental indicators, such as the impact on climate change. If so, a mathematical model will be developed to explain the underlying mechanism and try to estimate the environmental performances of food products.
This would not replace the data collection for conducting LCAs in database development, but it would complement the development of databases. We would be able to estimate the environmental impact of food products that we have not performed an LCA for, based on scientific reasoning.