When you get meal kits delivered to your home, are they a net benefit to the environment? Or are these time-savers carbon-heavy?

Since 2012, there’s been a surge in meal-kit delivery options. Online buying and delivery is now the norm. There’s a surge in interest in healthy eating. And we’re all insanely busy. And that’s making meal kits a $5 billion business, boosting the prospects of companies like Home Chef, Blue Apron and HelloFresh.

But how guilty should you feel while unboxing that pre-measured parsley or berry sauce for that salmon? How does the carbon that got burned to make that packaging and drive that delivery van compare to buying the ingredients yourself? Has anyone done the math? 

We found someone who can actually answer this question for us: Dr. Isabella Gee, an engineer at the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas. She focused her thesis on this exact question — and she spends her time looking broadly at the food system. 

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The Interchange is sponsored by Viking Cold Solutions, a leader in thermal storage for refrigerated warehouses, grocery store freezers and restaurants around the globe. Find out how thermal storage can benefit your facility.

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