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December 2023 The Shift e-newsletter

Alternative Proteins Webinar | ESG Contributes to ecoinvent Crop Updates | Heirloom Maize and Tortilla Book | Upcoming Training

Free Webinar

Surveying the Environmental Impact of Alternative Proteins via Life Cycle Assessment

DATE: December 7, 2023

TIME: 1-2pm ET

PRESENTER: Nikhita Mansukhani Kogar

Senior Lead Scientist, The Good Food Institute


Alternative proteins are a powerful tool to mitigate the environmental impact of our food system, decrease the risk of zoonotic disease, and ultimately feed more people with fewer resources. However, a clear understanding of the environmental impacts of alternative proteins is essential to inform the suite of strategies available to make the transition to alternative proteins economically and environmentally sound. In this session with The Good Food Institute, Dr. Nikhita Kogar will provide an overview of modern plant-based meat production and review the highest environmental impact factors based on life cycle assessments conducted to date. An examination of these factors across the production process will follow, along with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities that the sector faces as a result.


Nikhita Mansukhani Kogar is a Senior Lead Scientist for the plant-based pillar at The Good Food Institute. Prior to joining GFI, she worked in food and biotechnology product development, most recently as an Innovation Scientist at Beyond Meat. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University.


EarthShift Global Team Contributes State-Level Impact Information On Four Key Food Crops to Updated ecoinvent LCI Database

system boundary diagram for agriculture crop

Figure 1 — System boundaries for the state-specific crop impact research effort; product treatment (grain drying and potato grading) was not included in the data collection process.

The non-profit ecoinvent Association is one of the world’s most important sources of life-cycle inventory data, and we’re proud that version 3.10 of its database will include new state-specific US agricultural data for four important food crops assembled by a team from EarthShift Global

For the first time, life cycle assessment (LCA) practitioners will be able to access impact data on grain corn (maize), soybeans, sweet corn, and potatoes based on the state in which the crop was grown — an important distinction, because types and quantities of machinery, fertilizers, water use, and other production factors can vary substantially. System boundaries are shown in Fig. 1 above.

“Currently the ecoinvent data for US corn and soybeans is a nationwide average; breaking it out by state can be much more accurate,” explains senior sustainability analyst Juanita Barerra, who led the two-year effort for EarthShift Global. “In some cases the difference is quite significant, with order-of-magnitude variations from the national average on some state-level impacts.”

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How Reconnecting Tortillas with Heirloom Maize Can Boost Personal, Planetary Health

New Book Co-Authored by EarthShift Global’s Mariana Ortega Ramirez shares insights from multi-year research into agricultural practices and nutrition of Mexico’s “strategic food”

The tortilla is a staple of Mexican cuisine, used in dozens of everyday food items. But most tortillas sold in Mexico today have diminishing connections to the traditional corn crops and agricultural techniques used in the original versions developed some 2,500 years ago, which makes them not only much less nutritious but also problematic from environmental and social perspectives.

For the past five years, EarthShift Global sustainability analyst Mariana Ortega Ramirez has worked with the nonprofit collective Alianza por Nuestra Tortilla, a diverse interdisciplinary group of organizations from Mexico’s urban and rural communities focused on the “current problems of the corn-tortilla chain, and on what we wanted to promote: agroecological production and healthy eating,” explains Mariana.

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Upcoming Online Training

Advanced Life Cycle Assessment - Anticipatory LCA
January 9-10, 2024

Introduction to Sustainable Life Cycle Assessment (S-ROI) - Free
January 17, 2024

Practical Life Cycle Assessment

January 17-18, 2024 and on demand

Introduction to Organizational LCA - Free
January 24, 2024

Organizational LCA 3 hour course
February 22, 2024

Learn More