Pasta  is Good for the Planet

June 2018  
Welcome to the new issue of The Truth About Pasta, the monthly newsletter from the International Pasta Organization. Each month's newsletter features a new and different topic -- all pointing to The Truth About Pasta. The truth is...pasta is healthy, sustainable, convenient, delicious, affordable, doesn't make you fat, and much, much more. Be sure to look for each new issue, with more topics and information.

The food and agriculture system is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions,  but not all foods are created equal. While meat often requires lots of land and water, with only a small return-on-investment in terms of the amount of food you can get, plant foods, like the wheat used to make pasta, are much more sustainable. 
The carbon footprint of pasta is only 15.5 oz CO2eq/lb (34.44g CO2eq/kg), much lower than many other foods. (For comparison, Red meat has a whopping 359.3 oz C02eq/lb carbon footprint!) Even among plant foods, grains are environmental champions, requiring only small amounts of land and water. For example, grain production uses 0.51 liters of water to produce 1 calorie of food, compared to 1.34 liters per calorie of vegetables, 2.09 liters per calorie of fruits, and 10.19 liters per calorie of red meat. In fact, a  new study in  Science finds that "impacts of the lowest-impact animal products typically exceed those of vegetable substitutes," further emphasizing the importance of including more plant-based foods, like pasta, in the diet.
Shifting to more plant-based meals, like pasta, is a sure-fire way to make your diet more sustainable. Whether you are committed to embrace a fully plant-based diet, or you just want to reduce your meat to smaller portions, pasta can accommodate any number of toppings, and is a satisfying meal in its own right. 

Experts Say:
At the   2015 Healthy Pasta Meals Scientific Consensus meeting experts added a new point to the Scientific Consensus statement, declaring that "pasta is a simple plant-based food, and has a low environmental impact." Since then, top Russian, Turkish and Brazilian scientists have added their names at subsequent World Pasta Day events in Moscow (2016) and São Paulo (2017).

"pasta is a simple plant-based food, and has a low environmental impact."
According to Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, and founder of the True Health Initiative, pasta's role in healthy diets offers a delicious blueprint for nutritious, sustainable food choices. 
Do your part to leave a gentler footprint on the earth by making pasta the base of one of your meals.  As opposed to what most people think, cooking pasta at home is the part of its life cycle that impacts most on the environment, making up 38% of pasta's carbon footprint along its entire production chain. 

Source: Pasta, Amore & Fantasia (AIDEPI)

Did you Know?

Because pasta is traditionally sold dried, it can last for long periods of time in the pantry without any preservatives or additives. This means that it does not contribute to food waste. Pasta is a canvas for other flavors and ingredients, so it is also the perfect way to dress up leftover meats, vegetables, and cheeses, before those foods end up in the landfill or compost. 

Video of the Month   

Learn more about why pasta is good for the planet
in our  TED-Ed video and lesson.

Recipe of the Month

Spaghetti Tortilla (using leftover pasta)
For those interested in the "environmental footprint" of their meal, this pasta dish boasts a modest 125.7 ozCO2eq/lb  (1.618 kgCO2eq/kg) carbon footprint, and its complete production requires only 1.69 liters of water per food calorie.  
4 ounces whole wheat or durum wheat spaghetti, cooked (or leftover pasta)
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
5 eggs
Herbs of choice (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a skillet cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the spaghetti. 
  2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat. Pour into the skillet (number of eggs depends upon the size of the pan, or even the number of eggs you have). Add herbs if you choose. 
  3. Let the eggs settle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the underside is browned. 
  4. Flip the tortilla and cook for a few more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Serve immediately or let cool and eat at room temperature.
Nutritional Analysis: 
Calories: 180, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 90g, Carbohydrate: 11g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 10g

Yield: 4 servings

Recipe courtesy of Fausto Luchetti; Photo credit:

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