Fed by fossil fuel

Getting food onto your plate requires fossil fuel energy. But how much? The answer depends on where you live. Our food is heavily subsidized by fossil fuel, from fertilizer, irrigation pumping, tractors, processing, and transport. As a result, every calorie we eat has been enabled by a number of “calories of fossil fuel.” This includes production from farm to store, not the additional energy needed by the consumer to transport, refrigerate, store, and cook the food at home.

Click an infographic below to learn more and see how your country compares.

This graphic shows the calories of fossil fuel required to provide food (on average) by country. Agricultural practices, climate conditions, process efficiencies, and diets can influence a country’s value. One oil barrel represents one calorie of fossil energy per calorie of food.

The fossil fuel used to provide a calorie of food is translated into the amount of oil with the same energy content. This figure shows the amount of fossil fuel (in the shape of a mini oil barrel or drinking glass with oil) required to provide a calorie of food in the specified country.

calories of fossil fuel used to provide a calorie of food in different countries

This figure shows various types of food, and how many calories of fossil fuel it takes to provide it in the specified country.

figure showing countries with a food deficit or foreign food dependence

This figure shows countries experiencing food deficits or reserves. Green plants represent food demand which can be met by the country’s food biocapacity, while red trucks represent food which must be imported to satisfy the needs of the population.