When you settle down to a delicious bowl of strawberries, it’s easy to consider them as local food. How on earth could something so fresh travel long distances and still stay so good?
The truth is however, that a lot of your food gets to you by trains, planes and automobiles and the carbon footprint of getting goodies to your table could be a lot higher than you think.
It’s actually possible to calculate the impact of this, or, the ‘food miles’, so you can get an idea of how much travel would have been involved in getting food to you. The International food miles calculator lets you track this from any capital city in the world.
Food miles are a way to measure how far food has travelled before it reaches the consumer. It’s a good way of looking at the environmental impact of foods and their ingredients, and includes getting foods to you, but also getting waste foods away from you, and to the landfill. The effects of food miles can be measured in the pollution that is caused. Think about the distance travelled, then think about how that distance was covered. Was it by Plane? Boat? Road?
So now you have a facility to find out where your food has come from and what environmental effects this has had, but what can you do about it? Buying local is one answer. Buying organic is good, but if an organic product has been flown in from South America, then a quick bike down to your local farmer is a much more environmentally friendly option.
Another way you can help cut the impact of your food consumption is to walk to the local shop or get the bus. This all helps to reduce the “food mileage” effect.
Composting packaging, where possible, is another way of reducing the environmental effects of our food. This reduces the amount of waste that needs to be taken to the landfill sites and again helps to cut pollution.
The impact of one person – you – cutting back on food miles over you lifetime is significant; now consider if you multiply this by your whole family. You can make more of a difference than you think!