Winding your way through the grocery store can be a stressful process. You need to locate the items on your shopping list (a task made harder in a pandemic where you’re constantly leaping out of the way of other shoppers), take any dietary constraints into account, and calculate prices to make sure you can afford everything you need. But for those who are trying to make climate-responsible purchases, there’s a whole other level of choices to consider. And it can be confusing and overwhelming.
Which broccoli do you get ― the cheaper, bigger bunch, or the pricier organic one? What’s the difference between this fair trade, sustainable chocolate bar and that fair trade, deforestation-free chocolate bar? Should I buy fish for dinner instead of beef? And what about these individually wrapped bags of chips bundled up inside this non-recyclable packaging?
For years, we’ve been told about the environmental impact of our eating habits, from meat, with its heavy carbon footprint, to the palm oil in our snacks, which is a huge driver of deforestation.
Labels and certifications declaring a product to be “sustainable” or “all natural” are supposed to help us make informed choices, but it’s difficult to know what they all mean. There are some resources out there to help guide you, from universities, nonprofits and apps. But just when you think you’ve figured it out, a slew of new classifications are added to the mix ― like “carbon positive” gin and “certified transitional” foods.
To help navigate the climate effects of our supermarket trips, HuffPost turned to the experts. We spoke to climate scientists, those who have dedicated their time to tackling the science and studying solutions to the climate crisis, to understand how they think through these decisions ― and what matters to them when grocery shopping.