In Summer, English Apples Are More Carbon-Costly Than Imports From New Zealand

Not a headline of my making, but a statement made in a Sunday Times editorial on January 6th.  The actual title of the article was “Let’s air-freight the food miles fallacy to landfill”.  The bad news is that the public debate concerning the sustainability of purchasing down under produce and meat is still continuing in the UK.  The good news that there are advocates emerging amongst the British press who are willing to research the subject matter properly. The author of the editorial, Richard Girling, goes to some length to debunk the myth about food miles.  Apart from the positioning statement I used as the headline for this entry, Girling makes a couple of other priceless observations. locavore This one on Kenya… “According to Oxfam, the entire trade of air-freighted fruit and vegetables from Kenya (big business in Europe) contributes just 0.1% to Britain’s greenhouse emissions….Looked at another way, a total boycott of the trade would reduce the average annual carbon output of a British citizen from 10.6 to 10.59 tonnes, against a Kenyan average of 0.3 tonnes. Any ‘ethical’ British shopper who drives to a farmers’ market, or who airfreights himself on holiday, is a heavier burden on the environment than any pack of African sugarsnaps.”

On-line food mile calculators are, in Girling’s view, “twaddle, but its apparently commonsensical simplicity makes it twaddle of a seductive kind.”  I wholeheartedly agree and it is very assuring to see that research and fact based journalism is capable of presenting a balanced picture of this complex and emotion driven situation.

My question is – what are we doing to to encourage more Richard Girlings to emerge, so that the consumers in the countries we are exporting to are  more consistently on the receiving end of balanced information?

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