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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Coolfood Is Cool

By Becky Streeter

If you’ve been to Panera lately, you might have noticed something different about their menu, besides the continual additions of new options. Many items now have a “Low Carbon Certified” logo displayed at the end of their descriptions. This badge signifies the meal has low food-related greenhouse gas emissions, and the business is participating in the Coolfood initiative spearheaded by the World Resources Institute.

The Coolfood Pledge helps businesses and organizations reduce the climate impact of the food they serve. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with food by 25% by 2030 relative to a 2015 baseline. The badge is a way of communicating to patrons which foods on the menu are certifiably climate friendly.

Not all foods are created equal. Plant-based diets have a significantly smaller environmental footprint than animal-based diets. Not only do plants take up far less land than animals, but they also require fewer resources to grow, and release significantly fewer greenhouse gasses. Scientists that work for the Coolfood initiative analyze the agricultural supply chain of every ingredient in the meal as well as the amount of land used to produce each ingredient. If the percentage of the entire meal falls below the greenhouse gas emission threshold for the initiative, that meal gets the badge.

The Coolfood initiative was launched in 2020 and Panera Bread joined Aramark in the pledge. Aramark provides food services to many educational buildings, workplaces and healthcare providers. As of March 2023, Coolfood menu items can be found at more than 1,000 locations across the US and Canada. The World Resources Institute is hopeful that number will only increase as more restaurants and food service companies join the pledge for climate-friendly diets. You can do your part by purchasing items with that badge and encouraging small businesses and restaurants to join the pledge.

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