Researchers at the non-profit IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute went through the contents of different grocery bags, analyzing and adding up the carbon emissions of each item.
The study concluded that the distance that food travelled to reach Swedish consumers did have an impact, but that the difference was marginal.
“To have local produce as the cornerstone of your climate strategy doesn’t go anywhere,” researcher Stefan Åström told the TT news agency.
The most climate-friendly grocery bag contained no meat at all. Greenhouse gas emissions for a vegetarian grocery bag came to about 10 kilogrammes.
A grocery bag with meat clocked in at more than double that figure, but the researchers said that a meat tax was probably not the way to go.
“I don’t think people would appreciate it, but it is important to discuss the problem,” said Åström.
“We feel that the question of food and the climate has petered out, partly because many people talk about local produce as a panacea.”
The researcher at the institute, owned by a foundation jointly established by the state and the Swedish food industry, said whether or not people took their car to go shopping also had an impact.