Carbon Footprints at Ginger Root
This lab investigation has been taught as a 2-part series, 6 hours total, for an introductory environmental science course. Students first become familiarized with food supply chains and their carbon footprints. Then students plan a meal at a campus eatery, calculate the food miles of each ingredient, convert food miles into CO2 equivalents, then go and eat the meal. In the second part of the investigation, students conduct two mock life cycle analysis of their meal. The first LCA uses a free, online database. The second LCA uses an Excel-based calculator. Students then reflect upon what carbon footprints can and cannot tell us about the food we eat.
Curator’s note: This class also produced two videos. The first shows them putting their understanding of lower-carbon food into practice by creating a recipe and collaborating with their campus dining operation, Ginger Root. They documented that project with the support of UW–Madison Office of Sustainability. The second shows them exploring principles of food sustainability through eating and analyzing the environmental impact of meals at Ginger Root.