An interesting concept related to carbon footprints is that of "food miles" - the distance food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased or consumed by the end user.
How much of the food you will eat today will be locally produced? And how much will travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles before it is delivered to your plate?
The more food miles that attach to a given food, the less sustainable and the less environmentally desirable that food is. The term food miles has become part of the vernacular among food system professionals when describing the farm to consumer pathways of food.
For example, for every calorie of carrot flown in from South Africa to Europe, 66 calories of fuel is spent - contributing significantly to CO2 emissions [SUSTAIN, 2002].
Food production, distribution and consumption patterns have undergone a major transformation over the past 50 years. Retailers have continued to develop ever more extensive and sophisticated outlets and distribution systems and import an increasing volume of produce. Consumers have become used to convenient, comfortable shopping facilities, and a large range of quality produce.
But the vast distances that food travels 'from plough to plate' makes it vulnerable to oil supply, inefficient on a per calorie basis, and unsustainable in the long run. Combined with fair trade systems, many of these problems can be overcome by developing regional and local food systems that highlight and use local produce.
Credit to the Global Development Research Centre
for above article on food miles.
What are you doing in your locality and specifically in your kitchen to think and eat local?
For those of us in Cairns, we are lucky to live in such a "low food miles" farming region. But, do you buy locally?
Are you aware of the following Cairns low food mile stars:
- Community Foods in Shields street (just down from Cairns Central).
- the stunning and stimulating Rusty's Markets
- Farmgate market at The Pier
- Vanella Cheese Factory, Bungalow