The debate on the global environment

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The debate on the global environment

It is also linked to the localization efforts of people who believe that rising transport costs and reaction to globalization will trigger a shortening of economic links and greater reliance on local and regional economies.

Ina Swedish researcher calculated that the ingredients of a typical Swedish breakfast-apple, bread, butter, cheese, coffee, cream, orange juice, sugar-traveled a distance equal to the circumference of the Earth before reaching the Scandinavian table.

Ina researcher in Iowa found that the milk, sugar, and strawberries that go into a carton of strawberry yogurt collectively journeyed 2, miles 3, kilometers just to get to the processing plant.

As the local-food movement has come of age, this concept of "food miles" or "-kilometers" -roughly, the distance food travels from farm to plate-has come to dominate the discussion, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, and parts of Western Europe.

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And, since our food is transported all those miles in ships, trains, trucks, and planes, attention to food miles also links up with broader concerns about the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from fossil fuel-based transport.

In the United States, the most frequently cited statistic is that food travels 1, miles on average from farm to consumer.

The debate on the global environment

That figure comes from work led by Rich Pirog, the associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University he is also behind the strawberry-yogurt calculations referenced above.

The team calculated that produce in the conventional system-a national network using semitrailer trucks to haul food to large grocery stores-traveled an average of 1, miles about 2, kilometers. By contrast, locally sourced food traveled an average of just In light of such contrasts, the admonition to "eat local" just seems like common sense.

And indeed, at the most basic level, fewer transport miles do mean fewer emissions. Similarly, a Canadian study estimated that replacing imported food with equivalent items locally grown in the Waterloo, Ontario, region would save transport-related emissions equivalent to nearly 50, metric tons of CO2, or the equivalent of taking 16, cars off the road.


But what exactly is "local food" in the first place? How local is local?

Alisa Smith and J. MacKinnon, authors of The Mile Diet, write that they chose this boundary for their experiment in eating locally because "a mile radius is large enough to reach beyond a big city and small enough to feel truly local. She figured that if Nabhan could accomplish that in the desert, she could do even better in the year-round agricultural cornucopia that is Northern California, so she decided to limit herself to food from within miles.

A Leopold Institute survey of consumers throughout the United States found that two-thirds considered local food to mean food grown within miles. Still, a variety of other definitions also persist. Sometimes local means food grown within a county, within a state or province, or even, in the case of some small European nations, within the country.

In the United Kingdom, reports Tara Garnett of the Food Climate Research Network, "on the whole, organizations supporting local are now less likely to put numbers on things. All of those are perfectly valid ways of thinking about local.Mar 21,  · “The size of the projected benefits should encourage individuals, industry and policymakers to act decisively to make sure that what we eat preserves our environment .

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