ESS IA – FOOD MILES AND THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ResearchQuestion:To whatextent does increase in transport of food (food miles) affect air pollution? CANDIDATECODE: gnd760(003157-0052)SESSION:MAY 2018 WORDCOUNT: TABLE OFCONTENTS Background:Food milesare miles over which a food item is transported during the journey fromproducer to consumer, as a unit of measurement of the fuel used to transportit.The food miles’ concept,originating in the UK and given much prominence in the news media, has beenused to imply that importing food from distant countries is inherently morewasteful than growing and consuming local produce. What impact is this potentialnon-tariff barrier having on consumer buying behavior in UK supermarkets?Revealed preference surveys in four supermarkets show only 10% of 300 consumersnominated country-of-origin as one of the reasons for choosing a fresh fooditem they had just purchased. Furthermore, only 5.4% indicated that they hadconsciously chosen British products for the reason that such produce was “lessharmful for the environment.” In contrast, stated preference surveys in thestreet found that 18.5% indicated that “food miles” or “the long distance ittravels” would stop them buying New Zealand products.
What people say maydiffer substantially from what they actually do in regard to “food miles.” Introduction:According to a Mintel survey in 2007, 40% ofadults would like to have have more information on how far food has travelled,and 19 % say they are using country of origin labelling to make shoppingdecisions. Most Britonsdo not care where the fruit and vegetables they buy come from, are notmotivated to buy British and don’t consider ‘food miles’ in their purchases,according to a new survey.
Inthe survey of 997 people, 61 per cent are not concerned which country theirproduce came from, with only 9 per cent describing themselves as ‘veryconcerned’ and 30 per cent ‘fairly concerned’ about the issue. While54 per cent of the over-50s said they regularly or always buy produce grown inthis country, just 32 per cent of 25-34s do so.Similarly,only 36 per cent of shoppers know what ‘food miles’ are – the distance goods havetravelled to reach the British shops, which is a big issue to environmentalcampaigners.
Justover half those surveyed, 52 per cent, believe the UK should import less foodso that the environmental damage is limited, even if there is less variety in shopsand food costs more as a result. But 23 per cent think this country shouldmaintain – or even increase – imports of food, in order to preserve variety andkeep costs low.Theconventional argument given by environment champions is that longer the transportationdistance read food miles, the more is the energy consumed leading to burning ofmore fossil fuel and consequently leading to emission of more GHGs into theair, which causes global warming. The obvious logical solution provided by suchenvironment campaigners is to source food from a nearby place so that thedistance traversed from the point of origin to the point of consumption can beminimized.
Sourcing locally produced food would obviously reduce thetransportation distance and hence the amount of fuel burnt but does this reallymean that growing food items locally would reduce the overall carbon footprintof the planet. Roadtransportation factorAs we seethat most of the emissions which contribute to the global warming happen due toroad transport because of release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxideand carbon monoxide. About two thirds of the worlds carbon footprint is causedthrough road food transportation. Transportation by air produces the highestcarbon footprint per unit but considering the relatively lower volume thisleads to only 20% of the world’s carbon emission towards food transport.
Therest of the carbon emissions produced is caused by other modes such as rail andsea transportation. Accordingto people of India,CHENNAI: “A cup of yogurt travels 2000 kms before it reaches a customer.Such food miles are unnecessary,” said Vanaja Ramprasad, an organic farmerand bio-diversity expert, based in Bangalore.
“Moving food and flowers across thegable merely add to carbon foot prints and when global warming is a seriousconcern engaging governments, global imports of perishables is an issue thatneeds more serious research and analyses,” she added. Methodology: – I have carried out a survey wherein I interviewedpeople through a questionnaire to know their preferred choice of vegetables at supermarkets.- I visited two malls – Inorbit mall andInfinity 2 mall both in Malad, Mumbai.
My main purpose to visit these malls isbecause of the presence of giant hypermarkets such as Big Bazaar and StarBazaar.- Through secondary research, I gathered andanalyzed data from the past which dealt with consumer taste and preferences forvegetables and other food items, in Mumbai. Hypothesis:- Through this research I can confidently saythat the carbon emissions have been rising drastically through the last fewdecades due to food mile transportation. These carbon emissions lead to globalwarming which can be harmful for the environment. Thus having an eco-centric mindset,could enable us to drastically reduce or gradually stop consuming food productsfrom outside the country of origin because this can help reduce global warmingto a large extent. Variableidentification: In this assessment the independent variable is thetemperature and the environment whereas the dependent variable is the transportfacilities and engines leaving out harmful greenhouse gases such as carbonmonoxide.Independent variable: temperatureDependent Variable: Transport Facilities and Engines Advantagesand Disadvantages of Food miles: The money earned from the crops can be utilized efficiently for children and as aid. Increases air pollution due to cars removing harmful gases, like global warming.
Importing crops would be a great investment in the future. People stop eating the food items from their country of origin. Though the production or growth of food items from the country of origin is always fresher and has more antioxidants. Employs a larger segment of people, because all the fresh produce is being transported to other places.
Countries being more prone to natural disasters. Foodmiles in perspectiveThe concept of food miles, the distance food travelsbefore being consumed, dates back to a 1994 report called “The Food Miles Report: The dangers of long-distance food transport”.Reducing carbon emissions seems to be an excellent ideaby the reduction of food miles, caused by aero planes, trucks, cars, trains.Usually the bigger food emissions are the most importantwhen it comes to food miles. A person’s footprint isactually dominated by production emissions, and food transport makes up just atenth of food emissions up to the point of sale.The analysis of US food emissions found 83% of carbonemissions in the food system result from food production, 5% from wholesalingand retailing food, and 11% from transporting it. Perhaps most interestingly,just 4% of total emissions were final delivery transport from the producer tothe retailer, which is what most people think of when they talk about foodmiles.In fact, what you eat is generally more importantthan where it comes from, as is how much you waste.
Thevirtues of eating seasonallyThe problem of focusing purely on food miles to reduce emissionsis easy enough to understand. The classic example is the much-lovedtomato.In cooler climates like northern Europe, Canada and the northstates of the US people eat tomatoes all year round, despite the local weathernot being conducive to growing them. Winter tomatoes in theseplaces are either hot housed locally, using significant amountsof energy, or imported from warmer climates like Spain or Mexico.When you analyze the respective carbon footprints of local andimported tomatoes it becomes clear that production emissions can easily dwarftransport emissions.Despite travelling a greater distance Spanish tomatoes imported toSweden have a far smaller footprint than locally grown ones. This isbecause the emissions generated to heat and light greenhouses in northernEurope far exceed the transport emissions of bringing tomatoes in from Spain.
Similar results have been found when comparing out of seasonEnglish tomatoes to Spanish imports, although there are also somenoble exceptions to this rule. For example, both in Sweden and England itis possible to get winter tomatoes raised using waste heat, renewable energyand highly efficient hydroponic systems.So does this mean targeting food mile is a complete waste of time? Not completely. But if your motivation for eating more local foodis carbon emissions, then it is better to try to eat seasonal localfood.By eating food that is both in season and local you can be morecertain that both production emissions and transport emissions are limited. You can often avoid them being refrigerated in stores too.
Evenmore importantly, seasonal food just tastes so much better.