August 6, 2007


Food That Travels Well (JAMES E. McWILLIAMS, 8/06/07, NY Times)

THE term “food miles” — how far food has traveled before you buy it — has entered the enlightened lexicon. Environmental groups, especially in Europe, are pushing for labels that show how far food has traveled to get to the market, and books like Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” contemplate the damage wrought by trucking, shipping and flying food from distant parts of the globe.

There are many good reasons for eating local — freshness, purity, taste, community cohesion and preserving open space — but none of these benefits compares to the much-touted claim that eating local reduces fossil fuel consumption. In this respect eating local joins recycling, biking to work and driving a hybrid as a realistic way that we can, as individuals, shrink our carbon footprint and be good stewards of the environment. [...]

But is reducing food miles necessarily good for the environment? Researchers at Lincoln University in New Zealand, no doubt responding to Europe’s push for “food miles labeling,” recently published a study challenging the premise that more food miles automatically mean greater fossil fuel consumption. Other scientific studies have undertaken similar investigations. According to this peer-reviewed research, compelling evidence suggests that there is more — or less — to food miles than meets the eye.

An exquisite use of the term "enlightened."

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 6, 2007 12:10 PM

Just another attempt by rich people to control poor people.

Sumptuary laws will be next.

Posted by: Brandon at August 6, 2007 12:25 PM

If Elizabeth Edwards doesn't want to eat tangerines in her 28000 sq. ft. house, I couldn't care less.

I still can't believe that the absurd notion of "carbon offsets" for individuals has taken off. When I first saw them mentioned in an ad in a travel brochure I seriously thought it was a parody.

Posted by: b at August 6, 2007 1:01 PM

A bright new shiny age of jackassery.


Posted by: Twn at August 6, 2007 1:22 PM

Along the same hilarious lines, we have this; walking produces more CO2 emissions than driving the same distance, given the inefficiency of human metabolism and food production.

Posted by: Mike Earl at August 6, 2007 2:22 PM

Shouldn't that be "food-kilometers"?

recycling, biking to work and driving a hybrid as a realistic way

Jackassery indeed. Self-indulgent moral exhibitionism that does nothing.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 6, 2007 4:16 PM

Just ask them if they're going to give up coffee.

Posted by: Bryan at August 6, 2007 5:03 PM

Here our recycling czar requires homes and businesses to separate their trash which is picked up weekly on a separate sanitation department run. It is then all dumped in the self same place as the regular trash. Everyone knows this, but we do it anyway, because should there ever be a demand for recycled stuff, we'll be already doing it.

You really couldn't make this stuff up.

Posted by: erp at August 6, 2007 5:10 PM