I recently concluded a yearlong experiment to track what I ate on a daily basis, not to count calories but to measure, and manage, my environmental impact.
As a sustainability consultant, I’ve counseled clients that “you can only manage what you measure.” But I’ve not as rigorously applied this adage to my personal life. So, to borrow another, I decided to practice what I preached.
I’ll get to the data shortly—no consulting effort is complete without a graph or two. But beyond the statistics, I gleaned the following insights from this endeavor.
First, the simple process of recording* my lunch and dinners (despite it being the most important meal of the day, I don’t typically eat breakfast and didn’t want to pad the stats with the occasional “vegetarian meal” of a banana) sparked conscious deliberation over literally every meal choice I made. Such deliberateness brought back front and center considerations that have become, with the rise of commercial-scale food production, so far removed from the dining process generally, and my dining experience in particular.
Second, I quickly became hooked on seeing my stats tick up (or down). This competitiveness did what guilt and intellectual awareness couldn’t—an awareness dating back to …