Sustainability: Comparisons per kilogram of product often not meaningful
The environmental impact of different food products are often compared on a per kilogram basis. However, different foods have different nutritional values, which means that comparisons of environmental impacts per kilogram of product are usually not a meaningful basis for determining the sustainability of different foods.
Grasping the full picture of sustainable diets
However, it is possible to analyse both the environmental impact and the nutritional value of food products, which does provide a meaningful basis for comparison. To make such comparisons possible we developed Optimeal, an optimisation program for calculating the sustainability and health of foods and dietary patterns. This software takes a linear and quadratic programming approach. For environmental lobby organisation Natuur & Milieu we used Optimeal to develop the Menu for Tomorrow
. We analysed a whole range of foods to determine what would be a healthy and sustainable diet for the Netherlands. The resulting Menu for Tomorrow describes how the Dutch should be eating in the year 2030. In addition, for WWF UK we drew up a number of sustainable and healthy dietary patterns (Livewell Plates
). You can read more about this approach on the Optimeal website