100 mile planetary misconception
- Paulustrious Nov 18, 2009 11:35 AM
A University of Toronto professor believes that the current trend towards locovorism does more damage than good in terms of Earths' resources.
Here is a lecture - if you have 45 minutes to spare ... http://video.google.ca/videoplay?doci...
Fundamentally, it takes more resources to grow a potato in Toronto, keep it in cold storage for a few months than to ship it across from New Zealand. In reality it's a lot more complicated than that, but you get the gist. The calculations, tables and references are also available on the net.
Other topics crop up, such as the economic effect on other parts of the world, cost of the 'shopping basket', product safety and inspection, product availability and so on.
When you listened to it, Paul, did it make sense to you? (I can't watch vids on this computer, so I admit I haven't seen it.)
Is s/he talking in terms of "carbon footprint"? Is the issue of the food's comparative freshness or nutritive value when it gets to the respective endpoint consumers discussed?
Is there a correlation between 'freshness' and 'nutritive value'? For some vegetables, sugars quickly turn to starches after harvesting, so quick frozen items can be sweeter than ones that have traveled to the grocery 'fresh'. But I don't think that changes the calorie level. I doubt if minerals are lost during shipping, or storage. Does the vitamin content change with time?
The Toronto potato example shows that local sourcing does not necessarily mean 'fresher'. You are not going to find a freshly picked potato (or cucumber, bell pepper, tomato) in January in Toronto, unless it was hot house grown, or had traveled a long distance.
There was an article in the New Yorker that touched on this a while back:
"Researchers at Lincoln University, in Christchurch, found that lamb raised in New Zealand and shipped eleven thousand miles by boat to England produced six hundred and eighty-eight kilograms of carbon-dioxide emissions per ton, about a fourth the amount produced by British lamb. In part, that is because pastures in New Zealand need far less fertilizer than most grazing land in Britain (or in many parts of the United States). Similarly, importing beans from Uganda or Kenya—where the farms are small, tractor use is limited, and the fertilizer is almost always manure—tends to be more efficient than growing beans in Europe, with its reliance on energy-dependent irrigation systems."
I try to eat local, but I don't make a fetish of it. The one thing I've completely given up is bottled water, which is incredibly wasteful of energy and other resources.