So loved throughout Europe, french-fried potatoes are to be found on the menu of every canteen, and nearly every restaurant and bar. How they are prepared though is astounding when it comes to the carbon footprint.
There are so many different ways of preparing potatoes: there’s jacket potatoes, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, and our all-time favourite, french fries or, as they are called in the UK, chips. No other vegetable can be prepared in so many different ways. And french fries are definitely the most popular method of preparation in Germany.
The path from potato to french fry takes 9 steps.
The potatoes are…
- Steamed and peeled,
- Stored frozen
and then fried in hot oil in the canteen and served.
All this transforms a single kilo of potatoes (140g CO2) into a real climate-killer (5700g CO2).
To-date unfortunately, an official CO2 stamp nationwide still doesn’t exist in Germany. This means that buyers don’t know the real carbon footprint for the product they have in their hands. Initial attempts towards this are underway in Great Britain, as can be read in our blog on beef: Footprints in the canteen: Beef.
The Bavarian Ministry for Consumer Affairs has already created a carbon footprint for foodstuffs. According to Holger Krawinkel from the Federal Association of Consumer Advice Centres in Germany, an official CO2 stamp can motivate consumers to buy more local produce, although that means that “local asparagus is only available in summer”, as he states.
Whether french fries will remain in favour as the standard side-dish in canteens despite having such an extremely poor carbon footprint is questionable.
What is more, french fries are the most unhealthy version of the many different ways of preparing what is actually a very health vegetable.
Company canteens need to inform employees by showing the carbon footprint for the various dishes served, so that the carbon footprint for foodstuffs can be taken into account in the overall catering mix.