You Say Tomato, I Say Hidden Costs of Transport
Locally grown food greener than organic, British study says
Though organic farming is relatively easy on the environment, buying locally grown food, even the pesticide-sprayed variety, is usually more earth-friendly than buying organic, a new study contends. Published in the journal Food Policy, the study found that the transportation of food over long distances — anywhere outside a 12-mile radius — can cause more harm than the growing of food with non-organic methods. Researchers calculated the hidden costs of farming and food transport and found that the U.K. would save some $4 billion a year in environmental and traffic costs if all food consumed was locally grown, and an additional $2.1 billion a year if all food were grown organically. The study authors called on supermarkets to label items with the number of “food miles” they travel to get to the store. “The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat, as our actions affect farms, landscapes, and food businesses,” said study coauthor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex.
Get Grist in your inbox