Daniel Ho

A Toronto-based management consultant who spends too much time thinking about coffee, riding around on two wheels, photography, books, and fried chicken!

Debunking The 100 Mile Diet

Wong Baak

There's a lot more to the environmental and social footprint of how we select the foods we eat than the distance from the farm to your fork. This articles talks about some of the issues.

How to measure the eco footprint of that bok choy on your own? With difficulty. A holistic odometer of pollutants and greenhouse gases would factor in not only the distance from producer to retailer, but also the miles from the fertilizer and pesticide factory to the farm, from the package factory to the food processor, and the miles travelled by empty trucks on their return trips after making these deliveries of fertilizer, pesticides, packaging and produce.

Add to this the miles travelled by the kitchen scraps to the landfill or green box composter, from the package recycling box to the recycling factory (often in Asia), and ? usually the biggest energy load of all ? the miles travelled by electricity to keep perishable food from spoiling in large freezers and refrigerators, many of them in supermarkets with doors open to warm air.

The reality is, the experts have different ways of calculating all this. It?s an inexact and oft-changing science. But the consensus seems to be that the distance travelled from farm to fork accounts for only 10 to 15 per cent of the total energy consumed in a complete food life cycle that stretches, as food miles guru Tim Lang puts it, from farm to fart.

The distance the food gets trucked also needs to be balanced with other measures of sustainability and social mindfulness. Local farms may not be sustainable and grow produce that needs to be heavily refrigerated. Yet distant farms may grow foods that are less energy intensive to ship and provide much needed income to the farmers in poorer countries.

Unless someone is prepared to make food choices the central issue of their life, we need some moderating guideline here. The 100-mile diet takes so much time and concentration, it can often become people?s only form of activism.

Read the entire article here.

Read the entire article here.

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