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c11 (ss)

Author(s): Scenic Spring

Date: 17 April 08

C11. What are “food miles”? Compare the use of observing food miles to the idea of eating organically. Which one is more useful in terms of carbon footprints and global warming? Explain your findings and reasoning in a short report. Use visuals if possible


Food Miles

                                                                                     
    The term "food miles" was created by a man named Tim Lang.  Food miles are the distance food travels from where it is grown to where it is sold. It is a term that has been coined by professionals to describe farm-to-consumer paths that are taken. The term food miles isn't all about the miles it goes in travel. It refers to the local food, consumers, health, nutrition, and more.

     There are several factors that are included in food miles but never looked at. These are called the ghost factors. Some of the ghost factors would be how many gallons of gas you use; how many trips you take; what life is being disturbed in the life cycle; who is it affecting, how much energy is being used; and several other similar factors. Food is only good for so long; by the time it is shipped and it goes 1000 miles away it is less healthy and relevant. Like bananas--you pick them green and ship them thousands of miles away and they are maybe yellow by the time they reach the consumer. What happened to the vital minerals and nutrients that could have contributed to growing it till it is yellow?

    One main factor ignored  is this. A shopper will go to a store and drive say... 10 minutes to get a piece of steak that is 4 oz. By the time he gets the steak he burns 1 gallon of gas just to get one item of steak. That is costing $3.30 a gallon. By the time you add on $3.50 to amount you pay; you have used more energy, gas, and money then it is worth. If it was local the prices would be less and the steak fresher. That would equal better quality for less money.

    Food miles have increased over the past 50 years. This is due to the growing amount of convenient and comfortable shopping areas. Due to the outlets producing places like this there is more food miles going into transportation. By transporting over long distances food  is subject to depleting oil supplies, less quality in the long run, and makes it expensive on a per-calorie basis. Places like Wal-mart; who appear to be helping, are actually creating more 'food miles' then any other location with their food chain.





    Food miles are basic math and logic. Consider the following simplistic example: a small family farm produces 10 tons of produce, but has a small truck with capacity for only 1 ton. If the farm is located 100 miles away from market, each piece of produce only travels 100 'food miles'; however, 10 trips are required to bring that produce to market. Now consider a farm located 1000 miles away but with a 10-ton truck. That farm's produce would travel 1000 food miles while consuming a comparable amount of energy. (wikipedia.org)" It is about providing the lowest factor of miles, with the amount driven, and how much is being carried. That is what determines the amount of miles. It lacks scale and order. The main factor looked at would be the average amount per ton.

     What people are doing now is observing. We see the problem but we aren't acting on fixing it. We don't see that the more food miles we use the more pollution we are placing in the air by driving. We aren't observing all these huge sufficient plants that are producing the mass amount of pollution in the air. The trucks we use to transfer are diesel; the worst fuel out there. By doing all of this we are placing pollution in the air which will ultimately contribute to global warming. If we would act on trying to fix our carbon foot print and food miles we would be lowering the pollution in the air. For instance if we ate organically  instead of buying the processed shipped foods we would be better off. If we grew our own foods w/o pesticides added in we would be helping the bees, the environment, and ourselves. We all know this is healthier and we would use much less gas traveling to convenience stores to get 1 or 2 things shipped from somewhere else. I know  It can't be totally avoided as different areas don't have what is needed to be able to grow in their own areas. But we can certainly cut down dramatically. By eating organically we would be saving tons of energy, gas, and pollution in the air that is contributing to global warming.

    Food miles could be helped by developing local food trade. If you grow it locally it will use less food miles to get the food to consumers. Using local produce would increase quality, efficiency, and lower food miles drastically. So if we all do our part we can all help our earth by eating organically and local.
                                              

                            Work cited:
Unknown name. <http://www.gdrc.org/uem/footprints/food-miles.html>.
Unknown name. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_miles>.

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