Meat of the Matter: New Guide Equips Cities and Counties to Fight Climate Change through Food Purchasing
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new guide released today by Friends of the Earth and the Responsible Purchasing Network provides practical guidance on how cities and counties can fight climate change by shifting food purchases towards healthy, plant-based options. This first-of-its-kind resource explains how municipalities can use their economic clout and political influence to adopt policies for climate-friendly food purchasing — a largely untapped opportunity for meaningful impact.
“The world simply cannot meet its climate targets unless high meat-consuming nations like the U.S. substantially cut emissions associated with meat- and dairy-intensive diets,” said Chloë Waterman, senior food campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “As the centers of consumption and birthplaces of innovation, cities have a critical role to play in leading these efforts.”
Meat of the Matter: A Municipal Guide to Climate-Friendly Food Purchasing comes on the heels of a letter released by a large coalition of health and environmental groups applauding municipal leaders for their important climate mitigation efforts but cautioning that these efforts will be insufficient without also slashing emissions embedded in food. The letter urges leaders to take decisive action to shift consumption away from meat and dairy towards healthier, plant-forward food options.
“A growing number of cities and counties are adding sustainable food procurement to their green purchasing programs,” said Alicia Culver, Executive Director of the Responsible Purchasing Network. “By serving less meat and more plant-based meals in their hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, and office buildings, local governments are realizing measurable greenhouse gas reductions, health benefits and cost savings. They can then use the money saved to purchase more sustainable food products like organic milk.”
Meat of the Matter describes step-by-step actions municipalities can take to reduce emissions while also promoting the health of their employees, residents, and environment. Strategies include adopting a climate-friendly food purchasing policy and standards and changing contracts and menus. The guide also shows how to measure the climate and financial benefits of these policies and highlights examples from cities and counties across the country, including:
- The Good Food Purchasing Program, which has been adopted by Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and the Oakland and San Francisco school districts;
- Sustainable food procurement policies in Woodbury County, IA and Cleveland, OH; and
- Climate action plans that include climate-friendly procurement strategies such as in Multnomah County, OR, Santa Monica, CA, Eugene, OR and Carrboro, NC.
“Food purchases can be a significant contributor to a municipality’s climate footprint,” said Karen Cook, Sustainability Project Manager for Alameda County. “This guide draws from the experiences of cities and counties across the country to provide actionable strategies to reduce emissions through food procurement policies that protect people and the planet.”
“The City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools’ recent adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Program leverages the purchasing power of the 3rd largest city in the United States to help protect the planet from the devastating impacts of climate change,” added Rodger Cooley, Executive Director of the Chicago Food Policy Action Council.