Food miles. Come on. Admit it. You have all heard of them.
Do you check where your juicy supermarket Apples came from?
The other side of the planet? What is wrong with the apples
in the orchard down the street? Nuts isn't it? Every year we
import thousands of tones of basic foodstuffs only to export
similar amounts. Food swirls round and around the supply
chain in ever increasing circles. Sometimes it looks like we
move it just for the sake of it.
Transportation is but the tip of the iceberg. What about all
the nitrogen fertiliser? Guess where that comes from? It is
made from Fossil Fuels. Guess how those big mechanised farms
plant those crops, spread that fertiliser, spray that
pesticide and harvest those food staples? With big tractors
and custom harvesting machines dosed with liberal amounts of
One of the first things that any right-minded consumer can
do is to move to locally produced product by carefully
reading the country of source on most supermarket packaging.
Always choose the lowest food miles. Next, choose Organic
products above regular products. Organic products are grown
without Fossil Fuel-derived fertilisers or mass
mechanisation to spread various poisons over the crop. Some
may argue that it tastes better or is better for you. (That
is largely subjective although medical studies certainly
suggest that grass-fed cattle produce healthier beef than
intensively reared examples.) The
Carbon Footprint of that Fruit & Veg is much lower because
of Organic farming.
You may have heard that you will have to become Vegetarian.
True - forsaking meat will reduce your
Carbon Footprint because current menthods of meat production is
a less efficient
use of land in terms of Carbon. In the
worst-case-scenario, every 10kg of
vegetables fed to cattle results in only 1kg of beef. Livestock animals account for
somewhere between 5 & 12% of Green House Gas
emissions (depends how you calculate it). However, humans
are natural omnivores... All told the total ratio of
vegetable to animal production is really only 1:1.4 today.
This actually means that we should cut back our meat eating
by about 60%. There is no need to be a vegetarian because
the most efficient use of land comes from a mixed animal and
vegatable production system. The reason is that animals can
convert vegetable "waste" into food.
Next, to really bring it all home, well, do it at home. No
matter how big your plot, from window box to full size
mega-garden, start growing your own. Yes it requires work
but what else did you intend on doing with your time?
Sitting at an airport or maybe driving to the Supermarket?
Growing and eating your own food should be as normal as the
suburban chore of mowing the lawn. It represent zero food
miles and offers the lowest carbon footprint.
Under the 1922 Allotment Act in the United Kingdom it is
every person's Statutory right to be provided with an
allotment. Until quite recently British towns and cities had
some two million allotments. Barely 200,000 remain. What is
more you can keep chickens. The UK Henkeepers association is
growing at a rate of 20 members per day. That is 350,000
todate. Starter packs are available from £300 GBP that
include the Chickens!
So, please boycott your local supermarket. Become a familiar
face at your local shop or farmers market. Choose carefully and grow your own.
Maybe before it is too late. This will become normal. You
may be a pioneer now but tomorrow it will be the new norm.