Figure 2. Flow diagram of the system under study.
The water–energy–food (WEF) Nexus has become a key concept to promote the cross-sectoral coordination toward sustainable development. In particular, understanding the interdependences of these pillars, as well as addressing a life cycle perspective, is essential when evaluating food production systems. This study explores the environmental impacts and nutritional quality of potato chips, addressing life cycle thinking and a WEF Nexus approach. For this purpose, the combined application of life cycle assessment (LCA) and the Nutrient-Rich Food 9.3 (NRF9.3) index was considered to identify the main environmental hotspots and advanced opportunities. The results indicated a major contribution of the cultivation stage on water use, whereas the processing accounted for most of the impacts in energy-related indicators and eutrophication potentials. Improvement opportunities reside in the joint application of drip irrigation, allowing to achieve important water savings, as well as the use of natural gas or pellets instead of diesel, which constitute cleaner energy sources. On the other hand, a poor nutritional density of potato chips became evident from the quantification of the NRF9.3, which can be significantly improved if potatoes undergo a roasted process instead of frying.
Fernández-Ríos, A., Laso, J., Amo-Setién, F. J., Abajas-Bustillo, R., Ortego-Mate, C., Fullana-i-Palmer, P., ... & Margallo, M. (2022). Water–Energy–Food Nexus and Life Cycle Thinking: A New Approach to Environmental and Nutritional Assessment of Potato Chips. Foods, 11(7), 1018.
Download the full research article here.