Are you aware that it takes 17 days for your grapes to get from the vine to your grocery store when shipped from Chile? Or that transporting food over long distances generates great quantities of greenhouse gas emissions? The average food travels 1,500 miles to reach your plate. By supporting local food production, you can drastically reduce your carbon emissions – and support your local farmers. Let’s take a look at what’s truly on your plate.
What’s on your plate?
A food mile is the distance food travels from where it is grown or raised, to where it is ultimately purchased by the consumer. Our large-scale transportation of food consumes large quantities of fossil fuels, and reduces the nutrient content of the food received. If it takes 17 days for grapes to come from Chile – what nutrients are we getting? Are we getting the micro and macro-nutrients we need? The answer, most likely – is that we are not. By supporting local farmers and markets, we receive fresh, nutrient dense foods – while reducing our carbon footprint. Here are a few facts on the impact of food transport.
Facts About Food Transport:
- Apples travel an average of 1,555 miles, grapes 2,143 miles, peaches 1,674 miles, and lettuce 2,055 miles; causing most to be picked unripe, losing important nutrients.
- Food transport produces about 8 tons of emissions per household annually, equating to 11% of the average American household’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- Air freighting food generates 50 times more CO2 emissions than sea shipping. But sea shipping is slow, and demand for fresh food is steadily increasing.
- The use of diesel fuel accounts for 25% of the total energy consumed within the U.S. food system.
How can I make an impact?
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Shop Local. (Support local farmers and farmers markets). Make it a weekly family event. Many markets in the U.S. have great food, music and fun vendors.
- Walk or ride your bike to the market (instead of driving).
- Buy Local within the grocery store. Ask your local grocer to source more locally produced goods.
- Eat your leftovers; it saves an enormous amount of food and is extremely cost effective.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1.
- Eat seasonally. It is more cost effective, better for the planet, and retains more nutrients.
- Eating what grows locally and in season reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed for long distance transport.
- Preserve food that is in season. Freezing or canning is a great way to have your favorite fruits and vegetables year round.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Actions 1 & 2.
- Grow your own food. Most people have the space for a small garden, whether it be on your apartment balcony with potted plants, or a small raised bed in your backyard. The closer you become to the process of growing of your food, the more connected you will stay to the food you eat – and its impact on the planet.
- Volunteer at your local organic farm and support those who support you. Pick one day a month or more, and take your friends and family out to connect with the soil.
- Gather community members and start a community garden or urban farm.
- Choose to be an Ambassador for Change, and always Spread Love and Spread Light.
How old is your fruit? Quick facts on food transportation