Which Foods Produce the Most Emissions?

By Sarah Parsons and Peter Kerins

Fourth of July is synonymous with cookouts—more specifically, grilled meats. Americans typically consume about 150 million hot dogs over the holiday weekend—more than any other time of year—and purchase 700 million pounds of chicken and 190 million pounds of beef in the weeks preceding July 4th.

Not all these foods are created equal when it comes to the planet. As the interactive chart below reveals, per calorie of food, beef production generates more than 7 times the greenhouse gas emissions of chicken production, and more than 30 times the emissions from production of beans, fruits and vegetables.

Find out the emissions associated with your Fourth of July fare using data from the World Resources Institute. Explore the data further to see foods’ other environmental impacts, such as water and land use, and learn how tweaking the composition of your holiday plate can cut back on its planetary impact.

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