A 500 gram packet of Roma tomatoes at 88 cents at a discounter, and that in the middle of winter: according to social ecologist Michaela Theurl, this should not exist. The scientist thinks that tomatoes should be “a luxury good”. In any case, if the negative environmental costs were taken into account, tomatoes should be significantly more expensive.

Mass product with a bad ecological footprint

Because the Germans’ favorite vegetables only grow in heated greenhouses during the cold season, often in droves in Spain or the Netherlands. According to Theurl, heating and lighting are “extremely important,” especially when fossil fuels are used. Even the construction of greenhouses is ecologically relevant. But fertilizers also played a role, as did transport.

Theurl himself calculated the amount of CO2 caused by the Viennese standards: an organic tomato should therefore be rated at less than 0.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide, while a conventional tomato in winter from the greenhouse at 1.3 kilogram. “Emissions are therefore seven times higher for the conventional tomato that we now consume in winter”, underlines the researcher.

The advantage of canned tomatoes

According to Theurl, canned tomatoes are an alternative in winter, despite the tin and the long transport routes to the supermarket. In this case, an “Italian field tomato” generates less emissions than a tomato from an Austrian greenhouse.