Essay by Eric Worrall
According to Chinese Communist mouthpiece the South China Morning Post, labels reminding people of the climate harm could shift eating habits.
Fast food and climate change: ‘high impact’ labels could steer diners away from beef and towards greener alternatives, study finds
Nearly two-thirds of people who saw beef options labelled ‘high climate impact’ on menus chose more sustainable options such as vegetarian, chicken or fish
With more information, people could make better choices both in terms of healthiness and sustainability, a climate expert says
Published: 12:08pm, 2 Jan, 2023
As people look for climate solutions to rapidly cut down their greenhouse gas emissions, “one of the biggest changes we can make is reducing the red meat we consume”, says Julia Wolfson, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a former fine-dining chef, and one of the researchers behind the new study.
In search of ways to shift consumer behaviour, Wolfson and colleagues at Johns Hopkins, Harvard University and the University of Michigan created an experiment to test two types of climate labels on fast-food menus.
The group that avoided beef looked at menus with the high-impact label, with 61 per cent of them ordering a more sustainable option, according to the study in the medical journal Jama Open Network.
“This was an online study with a hypothetical food choice,” Wolfson says. “It will be really important to see in the future if these results and the magnitude of these impacts would be replicated in real-world settings where people are making real choices, they are spending their real money and they are then having to really eat the foods they select.”
As the professors admit, the study was not a very realistic test of their ideas.
Nevertheless I suspect the scientists are probably right, to an extent. Climate food labels probably would have a significant impact, on people who still trust authority, even after all the fake climate scares and empty Covid panics of the last few years.