If you want to be green, you need the right data…

Here in the UK, we’re only just getting to see season three of Masterchef Australia. Last night’s episode saw the contestants cook at the Greenhouse in Sydney, a restaurant that promotes sustainable cooking.

One of the unique aspects of this restaurant is that they process many ingredients on site – for example, they mill their own flour and churn their own butter. But is churning your own butter on site really green?

Let’s take a look. According to this recipe, you need 2.4L of cream to make 1kg of butter. The cream needs to be at room temperature before churning, so let’s call that 2.38kg of cream, based on the density.

AMEE contains a vast amount of environmental data to help answer these types of questions. AMEEdiscover is our search engine that provides a window into that data to make it useful and easily accessible. A quick search for both cream and butter reveals the full life-cycle emissions associated with both of these foodstuffs provided by the CLM data set.

With AMEEdiscover’s calculator tab, I can quickly compare the life-cycle emissions for 2.38kg of cream vs. 1kg of butter – and the results are that the cream has 4.41kg more CO2 associated with it than the butter, even before factoring in the energy needed to churn the cream into butter! It looks like the Greenhouse’s policy of making butter on site doesn’t really stack up in terms of sustainability… (Of course, if you churn your own butter, you also get buttermilk which you can use in the kitchen as well, but the life-cycle emissions of buying butter and buttermilk still works out better than churning your own.)

If you want to be green, you need to have the right data. AMEE makes getting and using the right data easy.

  • If you’re wondering how the above can possibly be true, remember that the life-cycle emissions include processing, packaging and transport emissions. Although the weight of butter and buttermilk combined is the same as the original weight of cream, meaning that transport emissions are likely to be the same, consider that purchased cream is likely to be pasteurised, while cream used to make butter is not, thus it takes more energy to produce cream for sale than butter and buttermilk. There may also be efficiency savings in terms of processing and packaging.
  • The CLM data set is one of the commercial data sets available in AMEE. If you’d like access to the data in this data set, please contact us!
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