In Defense of Food Preservation: Sustainability Benefits Quantified Through a Life Cycle Analysis of Ground Pork Supply Chains
CitationRigby, Brendan T. 2019. In Defense of Food Preservation: Sustainability Benefits Quantified Through a Life Cycle Analysis of Ground Pork Supply Chains. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractAs human population continues to increase, the amount of food needed to support the sum of human life also increases. Unfortunately, getting food onto consumers’ plates is an extremely complicated and resource intensive process. Simply producing more food to feed more people is an obvious option, but this solution would increase the environmental impact of our agricultural and food distribution systems. The most logical way to increase the amount of food available for human consumption, without producing more food, is to reduce the amount of unconsumed food that expires, or spoils to a point where it is no longer safe for human consumption. The purpose of this project is to carry out a shelf life study and a life cycle analysis in conjunction, for two versions of the same food product: with and without preservatives. The goal of this study is to develop a framework for decreasing the environmental impact of the food we eat by using food preservatives to reduce food waste. Ground pork was chosen as the model for this study because pork is the most commonly consumed meat product worldwide, and meat products are well documented to have extremely large environmental impacts (USDA FAS, 2016). To carry out the study, fresh ground pork products were produced with and without preservatives to see how much the product shelf life is extended by preservative use. Next, LCAs were carried out to determine which product will have a smaller environmental impact. I conclude that the reduction of waste will outweigh the environmental impact of producing and using preservatives. Contrary to popular belief, the product with preservatives has a smaller environmental impact, from cradle to grave.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42004243