Food miles: How far does food travel?

Have you ever checked the origin of the food you buy in the supermarket? Maybe most of it come from thousands of miles away from your locality. It’s not strange to find food produced at the other end of the planet.

Los alimentos que consumimos son transportados a menudo desde una punta a otra del planeta

The foods we eat are often transported from one end to another of the planet.

 

Since the 90s, the environmental analysis related with food transport have been gaining more weigth, especially in the case of food miles. This expression refers to the distance food travel until  it reaches our table. This fact must be to the transer of foods is a important part of environmental implication as the transport sector as the food industry.

Specifically, the term food miles dates back to 1994, attracting great attention since then by a wide range of NGOs, especially in the European Union, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

To carry out studies about the environmental impact of food transportation, this has been associated in recent years with the accounting of greenhouse gases, and more specifically, with the carbon footprint as an environmental and sustainability indicator.

Toneladas de CO2 producidas en el transporte de alimentos desde su origen hasta España en el año 2007

Tons of CO2 produced in transporting food from its origin to Spain in 2007 (Friends of the Earth)

 

Although the distance travelled by  food should not be the only factor considered when buying or when carnying out  environmental analysis (as we must also consider the implications for biodiversity and landscape, local employment, fair trade and their production practices among other factors), local food has become a more sustainable alternative that is gaining more and more followers.

We can not expect consumers to take into account the analysis of life cycle of every product they consume, so it is necessary to raise a public debate in which concepts such as food miles when analysing food systems and their consequences  to the environment are included. It is necessary to draw consumer attention about this fact, because although the consumption of local sources may have some advantages, it is difficult to imagine that consumers are willing to change their habits and consider the origins of what they consume without the necessary information .

On the other hand, it is important that, in addition to raising consumer awareness, further measures and ways to transport food in a more efficient way should be considered, thus reducing the carbon footprint as much as possible.

More information on Food Miles

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Acerca de P.delaVega

Ambientóloga. Idealista soñadora y adicta a la lectura. Amante de la naturaleza que no mata ni un mosquito. Ni si, ni no, ni blanco, ni negro.
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