The Role of Fossil Fuels in the U.S. Food System and the American Diet

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-224) 97 pp, January 2017

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by Patrick Canning, Sarah Rehkamp, Arnold Waters, and Hamideh Etemadnia

The food system accounts for a large share of fossil fuel consumption in the United States, and energy accounts for a substantial and highly variable share of food costs. To study these relationships, we use the most recent data available to integrate the material-flows accounting framework adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission into the ERS Food Dollar accounts.

Errata: On March 10, 2017, ERS corrected a few errors made in the calculation of data reported in Figure 14 (p. 32) and in the calories columns in Table 5 (p. 34). References to these data were updated in the text on pages 31-33 and p. 42. Also, a superscript on q on p. 89 was changed from a 1 to 0.

Keywords: Carbon emissions tax, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, energy prices, environmental input-output model, food policy, fossil fuels, food prices, greenhouse gases, healthy diet, sustainability, U.S. food system

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