Thursday 8 December 2016

Bath of water needed to produce full English breakfast, report says

Published 28/05/2016 | 01:11

A full English breakfast take a whole bath full of water to produce, according to analysis
A full English breakfast take a whole bath full of water to produce, according to analysis

Producing the average full English breakfast uses up the equivalent of a bathful of water and land the size of a small car, analysis suggests.

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The breakfast favourite also generates 2.7kg of carbon dioxide per plate, so that having one fry-up a month for a year gives out as much greenhouse gas as driving a coach from London to Bristol and back.

By contrast, the perhaps more restrained jam and toast is the lowest-impact breakfast included in the analysis for "The Crunch", an initiative from the Wellcome Trust to get people thinking about their food, health and the planet.

Greenhouse gases occur throughout the food production process, from methane from cows to transport emissions as the food is shipped to supermarkets and then to homes, while large amounts of water are used to grow food for livestock.

A full English uses 68 litres (15 gallons) of water and 2.4 square metres (25 square feet), and is also the fattiest and saltiest of a series of breakfast options included in the analysis.

Jam on toast produces just 200g of greenhouse gases, uses four litres of water (0.9 gallons) and 0.2 square metres (two square feet) of land, and has much lower fat and salt levels, though it contains more sugar than the fry-up.

Cornflakes have a fairly low environmental impact, with a small bowl using just 10 litres of water (2.2 gallons) and half a square metre of land (five square feet), and they were the healthiest option for breakfast of the five considered.

Porridge with honey was also one of the lower impact breakfasts, using up 7.5 litres (1.6 gallons) of water and producing 0.6kg of carbon - which means eating a bowlful every day for a year is the same as a return flight from Edinburgh to London.

A bacon roll is not as "bad" as the full English, but does take 30 litres of water (6.6 gallons) to produce and makes 1.9kg of carbon emissions.

Stephanie Sinclair, senior project manager for The Crunch said: "What we choose to eat is complicated - it depends on so many factors from our budget to our daily routine. But it's also really important, so it's worth thinking about.

"Food has a major impact on our wellbeing; on a global scale, through its contribution to environmental issues such as climate change and deforestation and trends such as rising obesity, and through its effects on our individual bodies."

The Crunch is a year of free activities and talks for schools, science centres and other groups to encourage people to think about where their food comes from and what it means for their health and the planet.

It is being backed by TV chef Thomasina Miers, who said: "Sustainable eating doesn't have to be hard and it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing.

"By eating less meat and dairy, increasing consumption of cereals and switching to fruit and vegetables that are in season and UK-grown you can really make a difference."

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