Friday, 6 April 2012

F for Food miles

Food miles (or food kilometres) describe the distance food is transported as it travels from producer to consumer. Choosing food that is local and in season means it does not have to travel so far. Reducing food miles can have a dramatic effect on reducing carbon dioxide emissions [more on that in the next blog].

Food miles illustration courtesy biegpozdrowie blogspot
It seems that in the UK the distance that our food travels from producer to plate has increased by over 50% in the last 10 years and estimates put the cost of all these food miles – which have more than doubled since 1975 – at £9 billion every year, of which more than half is due to the road congestion it causes.

There is a lot of information aimed at children on food miles as it is a bit more tangible than other areas. Just looking at our choice of bananas gives us food miles lessons and also of course might involve human rights and Fair-trade issues too. But I still buy them even though the nearest banana to me in the UK is thousands of miles away - about 4,000 to be precise as they are most likely to come from the Windward Islands in the West Indies. According to New Scientist the banana is the most popular product on the world’s supermarket shelves ...and yes I still have the taste of my breakfast banana in my mouth as I write this. 

food miles book
Finally did you know that if you avoid “ready meals” or heavily processed foods your carbon debt drops by 200kg a year. 


  1. Here in France, most of the produce is local and seasonal. Certain items - like bananas! - are imported but generally we can only buy whatever is in season. Very little meat is imported (and if it is, it's expensive) and most of it is produced in France. However, France is a huge country, so for us here in the north something impoted from England would travel less far than something brought up from the south of France!

  2. Well... being as I am a fresh produce trader by day, I can't say that I hope people pay too much attention to food miles soon. Most of the stuff I sell goes from SA to Europe. :-D

  3. Susan,

    Great post! Never stopped to think about all this, except I do go to our local Farmers' Market when I can.

    Is that a book you wrote? where is the link/ where is it sold?


  4. MOV - I have not written any book but thought that this one illustrated the points well. Go to her website and see more

    Misha - Ah of course there is always another perspective isn't there. My late step father as a greengrocer would have said the same!

    Heather - the same probably goes for people in the south of England too. Glad there is a sensible approach there!

  5. I would prefer that food that I eat be locally grown, but off season we have to get it from further away. I do think bananas grown in Ecuador are the best. They sometimes have the ones grown in Central America in the store I shop at and they don't seem to be as good. Interesting topic.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  6. Hmmm, after looking at a couple of your posts, I think I need to jump onboard as one of your followers. Looks like you've been writing about some important stuff. You REALLY had me on the packaging. That's one of my pet peeves. Even though we're allegedly "more aware" of the pitfalls of plastic, here in the U.S., a number of products, like soup, tuna, cat food, etc, are bundled together into 4-packs, or 6-packs, whatever, and then all wrapped in plastic. GRRRR! Anyhow, nice to meetcha.

  7. I try to buy mostly local produce, but winters in Colorado can be challenging. And I can't quite quit bananas and avocados any time of year!

  8. Lovely F word, oh great info how foods travel.
    Do check out my F at GAC a-z