Debate: How Much Do Food Miles Matter?

The Atlantic

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We just read this article by Marion Nestle on The Atlantic's food site, and it brings up the (hotly debated) question of how important it is to buy local. Should we avoid produce that's traveled thousands of miles to reach us? Or is it more important to support sustainable farms and fair working conditions, no matter where they're located? Nestle shares an interesting statistic, plus the one thing we all should absolutely be doing...Nestle references a paper from Environmental Science & Technology which states that most of the greenhouse gas emissions from food are released during its production, not its trip across the country to your grocery store. On the whole, transportation represents only 11 percent of life-cycle emissions.

Now, that doesn't mean we don't advocate eating locally when you can. Food that's grown nearby tastes better, and buying it supports your community farmers. But there's a far more important change you can make in your eating habits to benefit the environment, says Nestle.

Eat less meat.

We've talked about eating less overall, going vegetarian a few meals a week, and about the impact of meat production on the environment. Still, this was an interesting statistic to be reminded of: Red meat is around 150 percent more greenhouse gas-intensive than chicken or fish. So eating less can make a much bigger impact than adhering strictly to a local diet.

Read the full article: Food Miles: Do They Really Matter? From The Atlantic.

What's your take on this? How hard do you try to eat locally, and have your habits changed?

Related: 10 Ways to Eat an Egg Tonight

(Image: Flickr member Steve Hopson, licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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