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Evil Strawberries?

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Yesterday I attended the launch of the Cool Foods Campaign, a new initiative from the Center for Food Safety and the CornerStone Campaign addresses how the food industry affects global warming (hint: It has a drastic effect; the CFS estimates that up to 25 percent of climate change can be attributed to the production and distribution of food).

At the event (held at Blue Hill restaurant, where Dan Barber served us some of his incredible whey-fed pork), I happened to sit next to the CFS’s Zach Conrad, the agency’s resident number-cruncher. Using enough equations to put a mathlete in the hospital, Conrad has been calculating the food miles and carbon footprints of all sorts of foods, and I was curious which item at the grocery store, pound for pound, was the biggest enemy of the environment. “Strawberries,” he said, his eyes widening. “It takes so many pesticides and fertilizers to grow them.” (Though Conrad stressed that genetically-engineered corn—not the sweet stuff we eat off the cob, but the stuff used to feed livestock and make corn syrup and a million other food products—is the overall biggest eco beast). He’s even working on an online tool that will let the less mathletic of us plug in a specific food to see just how green (or whatever its complementary color is—red, I guess) it is.

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