Potatoes, rice and cereal products (like pasta and couscous) have different impacts on the climate and environment depending on farming, transportations and cultivation. Rice farming creates larger emissions than cereal and potato farming, because the water drenched crops emit methane gas. Import of rice also requires long transportations. Rice farming uses more plant protection products than potato farming, other cereal farming uses the least plant protection products. The cultivation of cereals to pasta, couscous, bulgur etc. dominates these products’ energy usage. More uncultivated cereal products, such as wheat berries and pearl barley, are better than rice from a climate perspective.
- Potatoes, different types of cereals including rice have very different impacts on the climate and environment. This is depending on farming, transportations and cultivation. A portion of of rice has a greater impact on the environment than a portion of potatoes or pasta.
- The farming of rice and potatoes uses large amounts of plant protection products, whereas cereal farming uses smaller amounts of them.
- The cultivation of cereals to pasta, couscous etc. uses up energy, which means that these products have a larger climate impact than relatively uncultivated products such as wheat berries and pearl barley.
- Rice has a greater climate impact than other cereals and potatoes because the water drenched crops cause large emissions of the greenhouse gas methane.
- 75 percent of all rice farming is artificially irrigated which is a problem since there is a shortage of water.
- Many of the plant protection products used in the farming of rice in Asia are very toxic and can cause health problems as well as harming the environment.
- Rice is transported long distances which also contributes to the negative effects on the climate.
- From a climate perspective it is therefore better to choose locally produced cereals or potatoes instead of rice.
- Potato farming uses quite a lot of plant protection products since potatoes are vulnerable to diseases, especially leaf mold. That is why the harvest of ecologically farmed potatoes is often smaller because plant protection products aren’t used.
- Conventional and ecologic potatoes generate about the same amount of greenhouse gasses, but since the harvest of ecologic potatoes is smaller its emissions per kilo are greater.
- During ecological farming plant protection products aren’t spread into nature and the biodiversity is protected.
- Cereal products like pasta, couscous, bulgur and wheat berries have different climate impacts depending on how the product is cultivated.
- In cereal farming the emissions of greenhouse gasses are first and foremost created by the production of mineral fertilizers and from emissions of laughing gas from the soil.
- The production of mineral fertilizers accounts for the largest part of energy consumption during farming. Ecologic farming creates less emissions and consumes less energy because mineral fertilizers aren’t used. For relatively uncultivated products such as wheat berries and pearl barley the farming accounts for a large part of the energy consumption. The cultivation and transportation accounts for the largest part of the energy consumption in more cultivated products such as fresh pasta. Fresh pasta also requires refrigerated transport which increases the energy consumption. When it comes to imported products the transports to Sweden account for a large portion of the climate impact. In cereal production less plant protection products are used compared to potato farming and in Swedish cereal farming less plant protection products are used than in other parts of Europe.
Tips for a conscious consumption of potatoes, rice and cereal products
- Look for locally produced and preferably ecologic potatoes.
- Rice has a great impact on the environment and has also been reported to contain large amounts of arsenic. Therefore you should try to vary the rice with pasta, pearl barley, wheat berries and such, and choose ecologic rice if possible.
- Look after ecologic and locally produced cereal products.
- Relatively uncultivated cereal products such as pearl barley and wheat berries are preferable to more cultivated products such as pasta and especially fresh pasta as it requires refrigeration. Make your own fresh pasta instead!
Page updated 2021.