When you order a falafel, the chickpea dish typical of Israel and neighboring countries, such as Egypt and Lebanon, not only are you going to taste one of the specialties of Middle Eastern cuisine, but you are also treating the environment well. The falafel is one of the “champions of sustainability” dishes, according to the Barilla Foundation which, together with the Economist Intelligence Unit, has compiled an international ranking, analyzing each dish based on the carbon footprint (the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted for its production , expressed in grams) and to the water footprint (the water used, expressed in liters), in addition to the amount of soil needed to produce it. The greater the amount of soil, the more “heavy” the impact of the dish is for the planet and renewable natural resources.
Let’s go back to the falafel, which in addition to placing itself at the top of the sustainability ranking, with 101 m2 of CO2 per portion, is also a useful dish to increase the frequency of consumption of legumes, important sources of fiber and high quality protein, rich of essential and easily digestible amino acids.
Among the most “virtuous” dishes of all, there is also a classic French flavor, the Niçoise salad, prepared with green beans and peppers, but also tuna and eggs. A portion of 100 grams “weighs” as little as 64 grams of CO2.
The classic Spanish paella, complete also from a nutritional point of view because it brings the proteins of fish and meat, as well as vegetable fibers and gluten-free carbohydrates of rice, is also quite sustainable: to produce a portion of 100 grams you need almost 2 square meters of land and 241 liters of water.
Even the Greek moussaka can be considered sustainable: it requires 241 liters of water per 100 grams and is located in the green zone of the Environmental Pyramid.
And our pizza? Not badly, but you can do better: the classic Margherita wins a medium-low position, with a carbon footprint of 652, a water footprint of 412, and 2.46 square meters of land used. On the nutritional level, pizza remains a complete food, which contains the three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. To further improve its nutritional profile according to the parameters of the Mediterranean diet, it is possible to choose the one prepared with type 1 or 2 flours, of the integral or semi-integral type.
However, pizza is more sustainable than the symbol of English street food, fish and chips. Which also from the healthy point of view, must be consumed from time to time: the fried provides an important share of fats, which undergo alterations if brought to high temperatures.
Not even the Moroccan couscous, prepared with lamb, chickpeas, and raisins, is light on the planet: for 100 grams, 548 liters of water are needed. For the vegetarian version, however, you save 50 liters of water per serving.
Among the worst dishes for the environment, a Croatian specialty: la pašticada, based on veal. To produce a portion, 15 square meters of land and 2,300 liters of water are required.