Results tagged “LCA” from onegoodmove

Beyond Food Miles

From Just Food a book I'm currently reading, what do you think?

Food miles matter. But they should not be stressed at the expense of other energy inputs that are equally, if not more, important to the overall energy cost of making food. There is no doubt that buying local brings to consumers many tangible and intangible benefits. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that the relatively easy decision to support the regional foodshed is automatically an environmentally superior choice. Life-cycle assessments remind us that when a wider range of factors is considered—the conditions under which a food was produced, access to water, processing techniques, the form of energy employed, and so on—transportation amounts to a small piece of the pie (about 11 percent of a product’s energy cost).

Sure, it feels righteously green to buy a shiny apple at the local farmers’ market. But the savvy consumer must ask the inconvenient questions. If the environment is dry, how much water had to be used to grow that apple? If it’s winter and the climate is cold, was the apple grown in an energy-hogging hothouse? Is the local fish I’m ordering being hunted to extinction? The smart consumer will realize that in many cases it’s more efficient to buy that apple from a faraway place where the press on precious resources was lower, or a fish from a sustainable farm located on the other side of the country. Distance, in other words, is just a minor factor to consider. In overemphasizing food miles, we have missed important opportunities to think more critically about the fuller complexities of food production.