Greener, Step by Step

By Jane Black and Patterson Clark
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008

A holiday all about seasonal food presents a real opportunity to eat sustainably. But making the right choices is more complicated than you think. Should you buy local or organic? Or is what you eat -- and how much -- more important?

Researchers are racing to find an answer. Some are analyzing cooking methods and calculating the "carbon life cycles" of food. The Bon Appetit Management Company Foundation, a nonprofit organization that educates consumers about the impact of food choices, assigns carbon points to a variety of ingredients. (Each point is equal to one gram of gases that contribute to global warming.) Other economists have tallied food production and transportation emissions.

There isn't yet a definitive answer to what makes a green Thanksgiving. But knowing some basic strategies can help you make informed choices.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company