Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Food Miles

As I have said before, I began this with intentions to document my trying to eat/grow/purchase locally (at least)- and well, I have been failing terribly lately and its a bit depressing. As I was preparing dinner last night the peppers I was cutting were from Mexico (they were very cute tri colored baby sweet peppers though) and the green beans (another FT recipe!)were at least form USA- but eugh! I can't wait for summer to come back!!!

I was just reading a study on how far our food travels to get to us- http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubs/staff/ppp/food_mil.pdf
I took out a couple of the astounding facts- please see the study for the appropriate citations-

in California alone more than 485,000 truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables leave the state every year and travel from 100 to 3,100 miles to reach their destinations.

the food system accounts for almost 16 percent of total U.S. energy consumption

Energy use also varies tremendously by the type of food considered. For
example, the energy used to transport a one pound can of corn home
and to prepare it exceeds the energy needed to produce the corn

An analysis of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s
1997 arrival data from the Jessup, Maryland, terminal market found that the average
pound of produce distributed at the facility traveled more than 1,685 miles.
This same study showed the average distance for fruits to be transported was 2,146 miles, while
the average for vegetables was 1,596 miles

From their table 9 using a diesel conventional semi-trailer -
fuel consumption = 368, 102 gallons/ year
calculated fuel costs then (2001 @ $1.58/gallon) $581, 601
CO2 emissions 8,392,727 (lbs/year)
distance traveled 2,245,423 miles

and my calculated fuel costs present ($2.43 from AAA.com) $894,487.86
or how about a year ago (when the average cost was $3.43 also from AAA.com) $12,62,589.86!!!
remember this is for ONE truck!!!!
the trucks leaving California alone- $433,826,195,000 in fuel!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_miles

After looking at a link form this wikipedia page (http://www.organiclinker.com/food-miles.cfm) which has an excellent calculator for "food miles" from all over the world to the UK, I was trying to find one for the USA. Think I could find one- nope. I found one for Canada, but no US. I gave up after the first couple google pages after seeing theses same two over and over.

Well, I didn't expect to be here so long nor have this post follow this direction, but I guess this is why I spent so much time in the garden last summer! I think I'll go have a snack from one of my jars in the pantry!!

There is some good news- although I don't have any more time to be here to comment on it- http://www.farmfreshri.org/

I'd love to hear your opinion about this!

2 comments:

Natashya said...

I think like any long path, you have to be forgiving of yourself. It will take time to develop an entire local menu. (Pity us in Canada!)
You have the right ideas, and plans. I would give yourself a bit of transition leeway.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin,

Im the creator of Organiclinker.com - the calculator you were using :)

we are adding an international version to the site soon, so watch this space!!

You should pop into our forums and say hi :)

Mike