Food Miles!

Posted on: October 20, 2011

Food Miles

Food miles’ is a term used to describe the distance which food has travelled before it reaches your home.  There is almost a certainty you have imported foods in your home and you probably don’t even know where it’s come from!  In fact imported food is at an all time high with 50% of our vegetables being imported and 95% of our fruit.  Being imported from thousands of miles away.  We need to find out why this is such an issue and what can we do to improve the situation.

What can we get out of having imported foods? In winter when the majority of crops don’t tend to grow our diet used to be of little variety but with imports we can have a larger range of goods.  Farmers in the UK can’t grow pineapples, bananas and grapes in mass production because it’s too cold here.  The good thing is that we can import those fruits from other countries.  Due to imported foods we can taste different cultures, for example the rice in an Indian curry can be imported, the spices can be imported so that we can eat Indian food with (see across) leaving the country.  And generally imported food is cheaper than locally produced foodstuffs and with the economy the way it is ever corner needs to be cut.

Because of us the farmers abroad are employed; they can bring home a steady wage to their families and especially to farmers in less economically developed countries this is hugely important.  They might get more business abroad as there might be more demand for their foodstuffs abroad.  Also due to us the food industry can be a huge job market.

There are numerous problems to food miles too.  Because local food is more expensive people are less likely to buy the goods that the farmers in the UK have put so much effort, time and money into.  Festivals like the harvest festival which is a festival celebrated around the autumn equinox which celebrates a successful years harvest are not as significant Because we can import all these lovely foods from different cultures we are losing a bit of our own culture.  Also buying imported food becomes a habit, a person will go up to a shelf filled with strawberries, one of the boxes might have Scottish strawberries, one of the others might have strawberries from Mexico.  The person might have bought Mexican strawberries through the winter and so automatically picks the Mexican ones even though they have flown 6000 miles.

And there are so many benefits to local food for a start it could potentially be more nutritious.  For example spinach that has been freshly picked and eaten within 24 hours after harvest contains 90% more Vitamin C than spinach eaten over 24 hours of picking.  We know that it was produced at high hygiene standards.  63% of 22 people thought that local food tasted better than imported food.

The importers in less economically developed countries hardly get any money, most of the money we pay for our mangoes go to the big supermarkets like Tesco.  Some money goes to those who’ve transported it from Israel to your home.  But the people who have created the very existence of the mango get the least money, it’s terrible!  There is also huge pressure on the supplying countries to produced these vast amounts of food if there was an inconvenience which meant that the food was unable to reach it’s destination the farmers wouldn’t be able to take any money home to their families.

Perhaps one of the strongest arguments against food miles is that it causes so much environmental damage annually.  Only 1% of our food is transported by air which you might thing is good because air transport causes so much carbon emissions but that measly 1% causes 10% of all the emissions related to food miles!  Most of the transport used uses oil, a fossil fuel which emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  The foodstuffs have to be packaged so that they don’t go of 60% of our household waste is made up of that food packaging.  And due to the pressure on the supplying countries it has meant they have destroyed habitats and homes to animals and trees.

Food miles is a very complexed issue which we some need to solve.  Personally I think we should reduce food miles but we should not try to get rid of it, after all the farmers in less Economically developed countries need us!  We should encourage a higher wage to those famers and we should be encouraged to eat our local produce when we go to the supermarket.  Whether they do it by putting all the local produce by the entrance or whether they put a little tab telling us that we should buy the Scottish strawberries.  In summary we need to learn more about where our food comes from!

from Susie xx

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