Following work conducted as part of her Master’s thesis, this past June, Teressa co-published a paper with Ray Hilborn titled “The environmental cost of animal source foods” in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. This meta-analysis used life cycle assessment (LCA) as a tool for providing insights into which animal food choices are the most environmentally responsible by quantifiably measuring the environmental impacts (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions) of a production system from a cradle to grave perspective. Calculated results from 148 LCA studies were compared, focusing on livestock production, aquaculture, and capture fisheries. The analysis highlighted beef production and catfish farming as the systems with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and potential for eutrophication and acidification.
Washingtonians may find it unsurprising that non-fed aquaculture production, particularly of mollusk species, were identified as having the lowest cost to the environment due to their low energy and resource demands. Small pelagic fisheries also have low costs as a result of capture efficiency. The purpose of this paper was to highlight environmentally friendly food systems, discuss the need for further research into reducing environmental impacts, and to stimulate a conversation on how we define ‘sustainability’.