Photo Friday: Beef Brisket, Brussels Sprouts and GWP*: in search of my/the Sustainable Diet

2019.07.17 DC People and Places, Washington, DC USA 198 11015
2019.07.17 DC People and Places, Washington, DC USA 198 11015 (View on Flickr.com)

Climate change is a threat to human health.

This week’s photograph was taken in Washington, DC (of course). The photograph below is the impact on my blood sugar levels of this glycemic index 0 meal (I skipped the sauce)

2019.07.26 Low Carb and Low Carbon, Washington, DC USA 200 01012
2019.07.26 Low Carb and Low Carbon, Washington, DC USA 200 01012 (View on Flickr.com)

What is the/my Sustainable Diet?

I don’t have an answer to this question.

And, I would argue, neither do the overwhelming majority of my physician colleagues.

Sustainable diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.Dietary guidelines and sustainability | Food-based dietary guidelines | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

A sustainable food system (SFS) is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.Nguyen H. Sustainable food systems Concept and framework [Internet]. 2018.

For me, being normoglycemic is consistent with metabolic health. It prevents the use of pharmaceuticals (and construction of pharmaceutical factories), which contribute to carbon in the atmosphere:

2018.08.07 Low Carb and Low Carbon 520
2018.08.07 Low Carb and Low Carbon 520 (View on Flickr.com)

GWP* and Methane

Doctors love designers. Doctors also love climate scientists and forage agronomists. They are also para-health professionals working to help us understand health in all its facets.

A new usage of GWP100 [Global Warming Potential], denoted GWP*, captures methane’s short-lived behaviour by equating a permanent increase of one tonne per year in the rate of emission of methane with a one-off release of 100 x GWP100 tonnes of CO2. This better reflects its climate impact.Cain M, Allen MR. Climate metrics for ruminant livestock [Internet]. 2018

Cain M, Allen MR. Climate metrics for ruminant livestock [Internet]. 2018.

I understand the measure and feel comfortable explaining it to a physician colleague. Since this is the internet, might as well get it here from the scientists at @OxMartinSchool, via Dr. Michelle Cain (@civiltalker).

I also credit the work of Frank Mitloehner (@GHGguru) who I’ve never met in person, and Peter Ballerstadt (@Grassbased), who I’ve met many times in person, because he’s been at the side of doctors, teaching us, open to any and all queries, showing us the science of agriculture, that in many ways is more developed than (human) medical science. Bob Howarth (@Howarth_Cornell) has produced very helpful work regarding methane. We need each other.

In Search Of…

I am not interpreting the above to mean that beef production is carbon neutral or carbon advantageous over other forms of food production. However, in my review of papers modeling sustainable diets, I find that they:

2018.04.29 A Lower Carbon Diet is a Higher Carbohydrate Diet 381
2018.04.29 A Lower Carbon Diet is a Higher Carbohydrate Diet 381 (View on Flickr.com)
2018.05.29 Low Carbohydrate Meetup, Washington, DC USA 452
2018.05.29 Low Carbohydrate Meetup, Washington, DC USA 452 (View on Flickr.com)

I look forward to continued scholarship in this space, especially that which ties human health to planetary health, which are inextricably linked. When we focus on one or the other, we are left with policies like this one (“Meat: No, Diabetes: Yes”)

2019.06.27 Low Carb and Low Carbon, Washington DC USA 1780005
2019.06.27 Low Carb and Low Carbon, Washington DC USA 1780005 (View on Flickr.com)

References – GWP*

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