Food’s environmental impacts are created by millions of diverse producers.To identify solutions
that are effective under this heterogeneity, we consolidated data covering five environmental
indicators; 38,700 farms; and 1600 processors, packaging types, and retailers. Impact can vary
50-fold among producers of the same product, creating substantial mitigation opportunities.
However, mitigation is complicated by trade-offs, multiple ways for producers to achieve low
impacts, and interactions throughout the supply chain. Producers have limits on how far they can
reduce impacts. Most strikingly, impacts of the lowest-impact animal products typically exceed
those of vegetable substitutes, providing new evidence for the importance of dietary change.
Cumulatively, our findings support an approach where producers monitor their own impacts,
flexibly meet environmental targets by choosing frommultiple practices, and communicate their
impacts to consumers.