How do you ensure more sustainability in the signs in school canteens? French researchers at INRAE may have found the answer. After careful assessment of the contents of the dishes served in school cafeterias, the scientists created an accurate mathematical model to measure the best ratio to maintain nutritional balance while reducing the carbon footprint of school meals.
The algorithm, developed in collaboration with academic company MS-Nutrition, searched no less than 17 scenarios, based on a database of 2,316 school meals. The nutritional quality of the meal series was assessed using the Average Nutritional Adequacy (ANM) score for 2000 kcal. The environmental impact was measured by several indicators: greenhouse gas emissions, acidification potential on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, use of water and fossil resources, etc.
According to their results published in theEuropean food magazine, eating three vegetarian meals a week would be the best option to achieve this balance. The other two midday meals may contain white meat or fish, the researchers specify.
Avoid red meat as much as possible
Their estimates are in line with (but go beyond) the Egalim law introduced in 2019, which includes the obligation to serve one vegetarian dish per week in all school restaurants.
“Increasing the frequency of vegetarian meals to 12 out of 20 meals and serving fish and white meat with other meals seems to be the best compromise to halve emissions from school meals while maintaining their good nutritional quality”say the study authors.
An option where you should avoid red meat as much as possible. “Reshaping school catering in this direction would have an impact that is important to investigate on the systems food, taking into account in particular all actors in the public procurement supply chains,” the researchers say.
(ETX Daily Up)