Food miles (or kilometres)

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Food miles (or kilometres)

Postby MichaelB » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:21 pm

I can be a bit of a cheapskate when I go food shopping and I have no qualms with buying generic brands (much to the horror of those around me). However, some of my penny-pinching ways have had more of an impact on the environment than I realised.

For example, I used to buy a major supermarket's brand of tinned fruit, assuming the fruit came from local growers. Turns out it was from South Africa.

International trade is a great thing, but increasingly the food products we buy come from overseas - all that extra transport means extra emissions in getting it from the farm to our plates.

Generic brands aren't the only ones doing this. Some very well established brands are quietly shifting their sourcing some or all of their ingredients from local to overseas. Even if the ingredients are sourced here, sometimes they are shipped overseas for processing and then brought back!

It really pays to read the labels.

I went through my food shopping one day and was astounded by how much of it wasn't grown or processed here - it was well over half.

So these days, I try to buy a little more home-grown stuff, even if it costs a bit extra - not just to support our farmers and other local industries, but also to help lighten my carbon emission impact.
Michael B.
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Re: Food miles (or kilometres)

Postby eileen » Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:33 am

I have looked at labels, too, so see how far food has travelled. Now I try to grow as much as I can at home, to reduce food miles. The hard thing then is how to keep excess food: summer fruit is usually stewed and frozen, but for this year I will try drying as much as I can as well. Veggies: I don't know what to do with much of the excess apart from giving it away. (We love home grown sun-dried tomatoes and produce many jars full each year.)
My freezer would have to be one of the biggest carbon producers at my place. Does this make up for food miles? I don't know. I cook less frequently than I used to, and freeze meals in small single serve containers which we take with us to work.
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Re: Food miles (or kilometres)

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:56 pm

eileen wrote:...My freezer would have to be one of the biggest carbon producers at my place. Does this make up for food miles? I don't know. I cook less frequently than I used to, and freeze meals in small single serve containers which we take with us to work.


You could install a couple of panels, a small battery bank, and a small inverter to run just the freezer (if you dont plan to go full solar) then it wouldnt be contributing any CO2 emisions ;) We run a chest freezer to store a lot of the fruit we produce at home. The freezer uses a fair bit less power than the fridge, so it's not a significant user of our solar/wind power on our stand-alone system.

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Re: Food miles (or kilometres)

Postby eileen » Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:14 pm

Thanks for the reply, Gordon. We have just received notification that we have been approved for the Government solar rebate, so have will have a solar system installed shortly - our application should have gone in in May, so the company has earned lots of interest from our prepayment for the last 5 months. I guess once we get the newer smart meters it will be possible to see which appliances chew through the energy.
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Re: Food miles (or kilometres)

Postby zzsstt » Sat Oct 31, 2009 5:49 pm

The funny thing is that the proposed emissions trading scheme will severely punish Australian farmers and (in the form proposed by Labor) is likely to drive many out of business. This, and the raft of other land/water related "environmental" proposals and recent enactments, will result in far more food being imported.

It seems to me to be another "perverse outcome", whereby we reduce our own food production (which is really not too bad, environmentally) in order to reduce our carbon emissions a bit, and then ship vast quantities of food great distances from places that potentially grow it far less efficiently. Australia saves a little bit of carbon (next to nothing on the world stage), Australians get to pay more for their food and the overall carbon footprint is potentially greater.

[It is only fair to declare that I have a financial interest in agriculture.]
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Re: Food miles (or kilometres)

Postby Tracker » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:32 am

My freezer would have to be one of the biggest carbon producers at my place.


Yes, but in proportion to WHAT.. What is the the cost of driving to the supermarket, every day for "Fresh Food" (not that you, Gordon, would be doing that. Yes, the freezer might be a carbon guzzler, but ultimately a saver as well.

It is only fair to declare that I have a financial interest in agriculture.


Thank god that you are - because we need more like you to tell the bloody truth.
We all are aware of the way that Woolworth's screws the local grower to the point of financial exhaustion, and then when the local produce is no longer available, it's imported from overseas with impunity.

SHOP AT ALDI -- They have a declared promise to only use 95% or more local content for their FRESH Meat, Dairy and Veg supplies.
Then go your hardest on those great German Chocolates

If I could buy the same quality (or even lesser) and know it was locally made, then I would, but as has been already declared, so many manufacturers are moving manufacture overseas to circumvent different issues.

< PS - I have a declared interest in ALDI Australia - I own have their stores!
or at least that's my reckoning from how much I spend there >
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