Food can travel thousands of miles before reaching its consumers resulting in excessive ‘Food Miles’ and impacting on the environment by increased pollution, noise and fuel use…
Better consumer information leads the consumer to make informed choices with respect to the goods is purchasing…
- a food mile is the distance food travels from where it is grown or raised to where it is ultimately purchased by the consumer or end-user;
- in developed, industrial nations, food appears to be travelling farther to reach consumers. International food trade is increasing more rapidly than increases in population or food production. Between 1968 and 1998, world food production increased by 84%, population by 91%, while food trade increased 184%;
- one 1969 national US estimate of food miles travelled cited an average distance of 1,346 miles; a 1980 study examining transportation and fuel requirements estimated that fresh produce travelled 1,500 miles. An increasing proportion of what Americans eat is produced in other countries, including an estimated 39% of fruits, 12% of vegetables, 40% of lamb, and 78% of fish and shellfish in 2001. The typical American prepared meal contains, on average, ingredients from at least 5 countries outside the United States;
- food mileage is calculated by multiplying the transportation distance with the volume of food transported. The higher the food mileage the larger the load placed on the global environment for the sake of a more varied diet for a nation's population;
- food miles can also contribute to unnecessary packaging, additives and a reduction in the freshness and nutritional value of the food. Local food policies need to be recognising this and increasing the production of, access to and consumption of locally grown fruit and vegetables;
- while the majority of food can be produced and traded locally, certain crops, such as coffee, tea and bananas, can only be grown in certain areas of the world. If they too are to contribute to the re-diversification of local economies and environmental protection, their trade must follow the principle of 'Fair Trade Miles'. 'Fair trade' involves the linking up of consumers and producers in such a way that the suppliers on the ground get a price that ensures them an adequate livelihood. 'Miles' ensures that the price paid by consumers covers the cost of a production process that protects the environment and reflects the distance the food has had to travel.
- this is one of the core principles of sustainable consumption. He/she will then be able to choose not only among different prices but also taking into account the impact that processing and distributing those products have on the environment,
- with this respect in the food sector knowing from where the goods are originating and having the possibility to trace back their supplies are important elements.