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Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 12837-12855; doi:10.3390/su70912837
Article

Combining Low Price, Low Climate Impact and High Nutritional Value in One Shopping Basket through Diet Optimization by Linear Programming

1,2,* , 3
,
3
 and
2
1 Netherlands Nutrition Centre (Voedingscentrum), Eisenhowerlaan 108, 2508 CK The Hague, The Netherlands 2 Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University, Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands 3 Blonk Consultants, Gravin Beatrixstraat 34, 2805 PJ Gouda, The Netherlands
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 5 June 2015 / Revised: 11 September 2015 / Accepted: 14 September 2015 / Published: 18 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
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Abstract

Background: This study aims to find diets with low price and low climate impact, yet fulfilling all nutritional requirements. Methods: Optimization by linear programming. The program constrains 33 nutrients to fulfill Dutch dietary requirements. In a second cycle, the upper boundary for climate impact through greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) is set to 1.6 kg carbon dioxide equivalents/day (CO2eq). In a third cycle, the costs are set on €2.50 as a constraint. The objective function of the optimization maximized the most consumed food products (n = 206) for male and female adults separately (age 31–50). Results: A diet of 63 popular and low priced basic products was found to deliver all required nutrients at an adequate level for both male and female adults. This plant-based, carbohydrate and fiber-rich diet consists mainly of wholegrain bread, potatoes, muesli, open-field vegetables and fruits. The climate impact of this diet is very low (1.59 kg CO2eq/day) compared to the average Dutch diet. By constraining costs, a low carbon diet of €2.59/day is possible. Conclusions: A two-person diet consisting of 63 products and costing €37 per week can simultaneously be healthy and yet have half the average climate impact. Linear programming is a promising tool to combine health and sustainability on both societal and individual levels.
Keywords: climate impact; greenhouse gas emissions; nutritional adequacy; affordable food; linear programming; sustainable diets climate impact; greenhouse gas emissions; nutritional adequacy; affordable food; linear programming; sustainable diets
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0).

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van Dooren, C.; Tyszler, M.; Kramer, G.F.H.; Aiking, H. Combining Low Price, Low Climate Impact and High Nutritional Value in One Shopping Basket through Diet Optimization by Linear Programming. Sustainability 2015, 7, 12837-12855.

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