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  • Climate Action
  • Climate Science
  • Sustainability

Regional Focus

  • Global

Environmental Impacts of Food Data Explorer

Author: Our World in Data
Grades: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Subjects: Science, Biology
Resource Types:
  • Interactive Media
  • Data
  • This interactive resource provides students an opportunity to investigate the environmental impacts of a number of common foods. Students can: 
    • Hover over bar graphs of data to get more detailed information. 
    • Select the foods to include in the graph from a provided list. 
    • Select different environmental impacts (carbon footprint, land use, water use, scarcity-weighted water use, and water pollution). 
    • Select the output metric (per kilogram, per 100 g of protein, or per 1,000 kilocalories). 
    • Choose to see the total environmental impact by stage of supply chain. 
    • See the relative percent of emissions in each step of the supply chain for each food by selecting "Relative." 

Teaching Tips


  • This is a resource that everyone should investigate, as it provides data and insight into the many ways our dietary choices affect the planet.
  • The website provides definitions of the environmental impacts you can choose from and it is straight-forward to use.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should know how to read a bar graph. 


  • Students may want to learn more about changing their diets or start a Meatless Mondays program at their school.
  • This resource is user-friendly and customizable to show as many or as few foods as you'd like.
  • Cross-curricular connections could be made with math, social studies, health, ecology, biology, chemistry, and civics classes.
Scientist Notes

The resource explores greenhouse gas emissions from food sources. It is weighted based on the relative warming impact, and beef appears to have the highest value of kg CO2 eq among the selected food products. The resource is suitable to guide our food choices to reduce our individual carbon footprint. This is recommended for teaching.

  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.8.6-8 Apply a range of deliberative and democratic procedures to make decisions and take action in their classrooms and schools, and in out-of-school civic contexts.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.*


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  • Excellent resource, with so many ways to search and present the data! This would be a great resource for math, science, and social studies!
    2 months ago
  • I used this interactive with middle and high school students. The students loved it! It's a great way to drive curiosity. The conversation eventually led to beef production and the deforestation of the Amazon. It's so important for our students to understand that critical link between cattle and the Amazon. It must be protected!
    2 months ago