Food and the Future Environment

Step 1: Description of the LCA Exercise


Step 1: Description of the LCA Exercise

Instructions for Filling in the LCA Spreadsheet

  1. If you haven't already done so, download the Energy Input LCA Activity Spreadsheet, which includes an excel spreadsheet with embedded calculations that will carry out some of the calculations in the LCA, and also a copy of the data table below.
  2. In a step-by-step fashion, the spreadsheet asks you to use data given in tables on the next page to calculate the total energy needed to produce and ship potatoes in two contrasting food system types: a smallholder agricultural system in Peru and an industrialized system like those in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Colorado, USA. See Fig. 10.2.5 (previous pages) for a simple view of the flows that will be accounted for in the LCA.
  3. To translate the energy usage into an understandable form, the energy results from the LCA are given in gallons of gasoline-equivalent, which is a “yardstick” of energy usage (for learners outside the United States, multiply by 3.8 for liters of gasoline). This is similar to the use of kilowatt-hours of electricity (kWh) as an energy yardstick for the LCA on production practices in Europe, two pages ago.
  4. The results we will calculate will be in gallons of gasoline equivalent per land area (per hectare or Ha, equal to a 100 by 100-meter area), and also per 1000 kg (metric ton) of potatoes (a metric ton is slightly more than a standard U.S. ton or 2000 lbs.)
  5. Detailed instructions for filling in the excel table appear on the following page. You will first fill in the excel table in the cells labeled as 1.1, 1.2, etc. for the smallholder system in the Andean region of South America, where yields are generally lower and satisfy the needs of households and local markets (a smallholder food system).
  6. You will then continue filling in the energy inputs for the United States-based industrial system for the excel cells labeled 2.1 through 2.17
  7. Note that to make the exercise easier, a few values in the excel sheet have been filled in for you. Also, greyed-in cells in the excel table will fill automatically by summing the blank cells once these have been filled in.
  8. After filling in both sides of the excel table carefully and checking, you will answer questions regarding the LCA on the page for step three, to complete the summative assessment.

Now, move to the next online page to start filling in the spreadsheet to complete this activity.