New research has revealed that a cheeseburger produces more grams of carbon dioxide equivalent (gCO2e) than any other trending food, followed by mozzarella sticks and then banana bread.
With My Emissions revealing that 25% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from food, Uswitch has analysed each ingredient of the top trending food and drink to discover which recipes are having the most impact on the planet. The research involved running the ingredients of 72 recipes through My Emissions Food Carbon Footprint Calculator and adding up the grand total emissions number for each one to discover the highest and lowest emitters of the top trending food and drink.
The results reveal that a cheeseburger (which has over 780 views on TikTok) is the worst emitter amongst top trending foods; comprising of a hamburger, a bun, ketchup and cheddar cheese, the American-favourite meal produces 5,768 gCO2e which is the equivalent of driving your car for over 14 miles! The second-worst offender is mozzarella sticks producing 2,346 gCO2e, and the third on the list goes to the recipe seen on everyone’s social media in lockdown – banana bread.
Viral TikTok recipes make up 40% of the top 20 highest emitters list; baked feta pasta is fifth producing 1,929 gCO2e, DIY hazelnut spread is seventh with a total of 1,658 gCO2e, whilst the TikTok breakfast sandwich (bread, cheese, eggs, and butter) is in ninth producing 1,506 gCO2e. Outside of the top 10 are the famous tortilla wrap (12th), mini pancake cereal (16th), floral focaccia (17th), pesto eggs (18th), and ice cream bread (20th).
The trending food with the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions is spicy pickled garlic, which is yet another TikTok sensation. Simply by adding 16 garlic cloves, hot sauce, thyme and chilli flakes to a mason jar you can jump on the internet craze without worrying about the impact on the planet, as spicy pickled garlic emits just 83 gCO2e. This means you could make this recipe nearly 5 times before it had the same environmental impact as taking your car for a one-mile spin. The second-lowest emitter amongst the trending foods is corn ribs – this simple recipe’s total emissions are 289 gCO2e, whilst third place acai bowl has emissions totalling 354 gCO2e.
Interestingly, only two of the meals on the list are meat-based, while the rest are either vegan or meat-free; this compares with a total of nine foods featuring on the top 20 worst emissions list that are meat-based. Chilli and garlic scallops round off the top 10 list with 522 gCO2e total emissions and the only other meat-based meal is the American breakfast choice of bacon and pancakes, emitting 583 gCO2e ranking the 14th lowest emitter of trending foods.
Just like the top 20 highest emissions, there are many recent viral recipes amongst the foods with the lowest emissions; TikTok pasta chips (literally pasta baked into chips) is the sixth lowest emitting just 468 gCO2e, three-ingredient creme brulee is 12th on the list, followed by the colourful sweet treat Cloud Bread which has a total emission of 582 gCO2e.
Full research can be found here: https://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/food-carbon-footprint.