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Old 01-27-2008, 12:27 PM   #1
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Food Miles

Does anyone pay attention to, care about, is aware of, plan accordingly, to the food mile issue? Food miles are how many miles the food has traveled before you buy it. Does this matter to you? It is estimated that the fuel used to transport foods around the world would be staggering if we could determine this.

Europe is considering putting this on the label, how far the food has traveled when it reaches the market.

When you enter a grocery store, do you think about buying foods grown close to home?

Farmers' markets would be a good example of low food mile foods.

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Old 01-27-2008, 01:34 PM   #2
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You mean that mahi mahi I just bought wasn't caught in the Great Lakes?!

I suppose I do look for more locally-grown produce when I can, but so long as there's not a disease scare of some sort in a certain location or the food is highly freshness-sensitive, point of origin is less important to me than proper preservation procedures.
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Old 01-27-2008, 01:41 PM   #3
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I true to buy local with what I can. Granted, some stuff, you just can not find locally.

Just better all around, you are supporting the locals, saving on emissions, and normally, the farm raisied "mom and pop" type items, are more flavorful.
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Old 01-27-2008, 01:42 PM   #4
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I was listening to NPR the other day and they were doing a story on this. Unfortunately I only caught about 5 minutes of it. The expert they had on was actually saying that people are starting to go overboard with only eating locally and he pointed out a number of reasons why this was bad. He was not saying that it is always bad, but what he was trying to say was that there are a lot more factors you need to take into consideration then just buying local food.

One thing he said was that there are foods that grow well in certain locations, but poorly in others. You can get them to grow in the poor locations, but maybe it will take 2 or 3 times the amount of water to get the same quality product. Maybe you are saving on the gas it takes to ship the food, but the cost is more water (or whatever). It is not as simple as just saying that eating locally grow is better.
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Old 01-27-2008, 01:58 PM   #5
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Since I am currently feeling like I live on the tundra it makes little difference to me how far my food has to travel to get here. I just bought a 12lb box of oranges because that is what sunshine tastes like right now. I generally buy things that are grown or produced in my province, but I have no qualms about buying something that was shipped from a long distance if it is something I want. I tend to buy stuff in season and freeze things so that I have what I want in the house.

Is that close to answering your question beth?
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Old 01-27-2008, 02:06 PM   #6
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I agree with Alix, it's hard to be picky about where your food is grown, mostly produce, when you live where it gets extremely cold. I grow as much as I can in summer and buy what I can at the Farmer's market, but I'd have to go pretty much all winter and alot of summer without a vegetable or fruit if I refused to eat it from far away places.
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Old 01-27-2008, 02:37 PM   #7
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As GB says, it's more complicated than just transportation costs. Here's a critique of a book called "The Omnivore's Dilemma," which discusses locally grown foods: An economist's critique of The Omnivore's Dilemma. - By Tyler Cowen - Slate Magazine
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Old 01-27-2008, 03:37 PM   #8
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Since I am currently feeling like I live on the tundra it makes little difference to me how far my food has to travel to get here. I just bought a 12lb box of oranges because that is what sunshine tastes like right now. I generally buy things that are grown or produced in my province, but I have no qualms about buying something that was shipped from a long distance if it is something I want. I tend to buy stuff in season and freeze things so that I have what I want in the house.

Is that close to answering your question beth?
Any comments are what I'm after. This is a somewhat new concept for me and I was interested in generating any dialog concerning it. What I am more familiar with, and dedicated to, is eating seasonally. What's in season for me is white and sweet potatoes, cabbage, and what's in my freezer and canning jars! What got me thinking about food miles was a recent trip to the store where I saw apples from Ohio and the state of Washington. If I had wanted apples, I would have bought the Ohio apples.
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Old 01-27-2008, 04:13 PM   #9
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I'm more concerned about what chemicals they use on foods in foreign countrys. We get lots of produce from Chili here, I have no idea what pesticides, etc they allow. I would chose locally grown, in season foods over long distance for the most part.
Have you ever read a can or packet of skinless, boneless salmon..lol..i have no idea why the fish caught here is processed in Thailand or where ever. I guess its cost..but geeesch. Thats a long way to go and back.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:48 AM   #10
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We have just finished a couple of months in a row of temperatures hovering right at zero. I, for one, thank heaven for food that is shipped in. I do not wish to go back to the days when the only food you have in winter is that which you can yourself. I've been enjoying pineapples this winter! I love it. Reminds me of our Hawaii days. I never tasted a fresh pineapple until then (I was in my mid-twenties). Now I can get one at the local piggly-wiggly.

But, yes, I do know where you're coming from. In the summer I have my own little garden, and bring tomatoes and cukes to many friends. When you can eat close to home, you should. But you are in the same boat as I am; seriously. What groes in Ohio right now? I know what grows in Northern Illinois. NOTHING. We would do without vegetables and fruit from about the first of December until August if it wasn't for stuff that was shipped in.
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Old 01-29-2008, 07:30 AM   #11
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I would consider food miles in search of the freshest produce or specific items that are unique to the area. My goal is to use the best ingredients practically available to prepare a meal. Sometimes that costs more.
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Old 01-29-2008, 08:01 AM   #12
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I am with Claire. I remember when I was a kid and in the winter you could find very little fresh produce and most of what we could find was not very interesting. Stuff like lettuce or tomatoes came from FL.

I think most of us whould be very disappointed to give up the wide variety of foods, including produce, that we can find even in the depths of winter.

And agree with Andy, I am going to buy the freshest and tastiest food I can afford.
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Old 01-29-2008, 09:21 AM   #13
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I raise a significant quantity of the food we eat. And especially concentrate on extending the growing season so we eat fresh food for a longer period of time than is normal, and also this means we put food by for a shorter period of time. Ohio just suffered an arctic blast, yet I harvested fresh spinach and parlsey yesterday from my garden. I also know no one who gardens to the extent that we do, we seem to be maniacs. So for the most part, the food we consume has 0 food miles attached to them.

But I am rethinking something I have done for several years now, in light of my recent introduction to this food mile issue. I sell planting garlic and periennels on eBay. I have shipped garlic to Hawaii. So i'm thinking, how smart is that?? Selling at a farmers market is not an option, it is too far away and the time committment is not worth it to me. So I am seeking others thoughts on this issue. I am interested in the concept of limiting food miles, I just need to learn more about this issue.

auntdot, Andy said he would consider food miles in relation to foods unique to the area. I took that to mean the area in which he lived. right andy?

I also place great emphasis on purchasing high quality ingredents, including olive oil from spain, greece and italy. I would not consider finding other options regarding foods like that.
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Old 01-29-2008, 09:26 AM   #14
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I've never thought about how many miles food travels. I just look for ther freshest best product I can find. If given the choice, I do prefer Citrus from Texas, Onions from Gerogia, Sweet Potatoes from Mississippi, Russets from Colorada etc. to name a few. Then of course local products are always a plus!
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:03 AM   #15
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I've never thought about how many miles food travels. I just look for ther freshest best product I can find. If given the choice, I do prefer Citrus from Texas, Onions from Gerogia, Sweet Potatoes from Mississippi, Russets from Colorada etc. to name a few. Then of course local products are always a plus!
well UB, I hadn't thought of it either, just something those dang "greenies" have come up, and I'm just trying to figure out if it makes any sense. And where do you prefer your catfish to derive from?
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:11 AM   #16
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And where do you prefer your catfish to derive from?
Ah...that's a tuff one Miss Beth....Mississippi???
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:34 AM   #17
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I've never really thought of it. And, I don't know that I want to start
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:26 PM   #18
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...Andy said he would consider food miles in relation to foods unique to the area. I took that to mean the area in which he lived. right andy?...

I guess I could have said it better, Beth. What I meant was I would seek out a unique food from a distance rather than a substitute sourced locally. I am referring to things like porcini mushrooms from overseas rather than another kind of mushrooms grown down the street. Prosciutto de Parma rather than Virginia ham...

I live in Massachusetts. I buy corn on the cob from the nearest farm rather than the stuff in the supermarket which was grown on Florida or some other warm weather area. I really like to shop at local farm stands. You know the food is fresh when it's been grown in the next town.
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Old 01-30-2008, 04:12 AM   #19
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I now live in north western Illiniois. Trust me, ain't nothing growing in -12 with a wind chill below that. Nothing has grown here since Thanksgiving. Thank heaven for the stuff that travels many miles to get here. I've lived in Florida, Hawaii, and California. I love it here, but it does make you think. I'm grateful for the fact that I can eat lettuce, tomatoes, etc even in the dead of winter. Even pineapple. I love my little town, and love it here in spring when morels and asparagus just pop up, and little lambies and vealies are playing in the fields. But you pay for that, no matter how you look at it. I eat many varieites of lettuce, and much more, year 'round. In olden days I'd have been living on canned goods for several months. I sometimes think malnutrition was the name of the game.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:01 AM   #20
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I hear ya Claire.

I would like to hear from some folks who don't live in the US. It has been my observation that people who live in other countries have a different concept of acceptable energy usage.
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