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News spotlight: Food has an environmental cost. Where does your diet rank?

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Every bite of food we eat comes with an environmental cost. But not every diet is created equal.

In an interactive feature from the Washington Post, reporters Niko Kommenda, Naema Ahmed, Scott Dance and Simon Ducroquet illustrate the toll our food system takes on nature — comparing the overall environmental footprint of dietary staples like meat, fish, dairy, eggs and grains. 

Readers are offered the opportunity to weigh the impact of various food sources against one another. It’s a valuable tool for any environmentally-conscious shopper that may find themselves mystified by conflicting information and the perplexing variety of organic and eco-friendly labels at the grocery store. 

The data comes from a recent study that quantifies how our meals contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, water use, pollution and habitat disturbance. In some cases, the results were as expected: On the whole, plant-based foods caused less ecological impact than those derived from animals. While red meat upheld its well-documented reputation as a massively resource-intensive contributor to climate…

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