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Dettaglio pubblicazione

2016, JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION, Pages 704-713 (volume: 129)

An optimal plan for food consumption with minimal environmental impact: the case of school lunch menus (01a Articolo in rivista)

Benvenuti Luca, De Santis Alberto, Santesarti Fabio, Tocca Luigino

Food consumption patterns and lifestyles heavily affect the environmental sustainability of food production at least in terms of water consumption and greenhouse gases emission. In this paper, a systematic procedure based on an operation research approach is presented in order to define menus with low environmental impact. The procedure optimally allocates pre-specified recipes over the three courses of twenty lunches in a month. This approach is completely new in this field since it provides directly a realistic menu. The capabilities of the proposed method are proved through the planning of two monthly schedules for a school lunch menu requiring either a minimal consumption of water or a minimal emission of greenhouse gases. They provide varied and attractive menus for children over a given set of Mediterranean cuisine recipes, ensure a proper amount of energy and nutrients intake, and have an environmental impact significantly lower than menus usually defined by nutritionists via common sense heuristic. The proposed procedure is easy to implement, has no additional cost, and is scalable, that is the set of recipes can be easily updated without changing the overall model. The results appear to be encouraging so that it would be interesting to apply the proposed procedure to some other food service areas such as company service canteens, chain restaurants or other individual establishments.
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