The Environmental Impact of Food Miles: What You Can Do To Help

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Do you know how far your food has travelled to reach your dinner table?  In many cases, Western society routinely purchases food that was grown more than 1000 miles away and transported to the local grocery store.  While food prices in the store are relatively inexpensive, the environmental cost of transporting your food is often very high.  Trucks, trains, and boats, all of which consume fossil fuels, are the primary methods for transporting large quantities of food around the world.  Additionally, the transportation of these goods causes an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.  Many people are becoming aware of the impact that food mileage has on the environment and are choosing alternative food purchase options to reduce the distance that their food must travel to reach their plates.

When purchasing food in the store, consider the food miles that it has accumulated to reach the shelf.  For example, many fruits and vegetables which are out of season are provided by foreign countries and have travelled a significant distance to reach the local shelves.  By choosing locally grown produce, you can drastically cut the food miles that you consume.  Additionally, buying produce that is in season increases the chances that it is grown closer to home.  To reduce the food mile impact even further, consider starting your own garden in your backyard.  By growing your own produce, you can cut the food miles from more than 1000 miles down to a couple yards.  Also, you will have more control over the chemicals and pesticides that are on your food and can eat healthier overall.

If growing your own fruits and vegetables is not an option, consider supporting the local farmers in your area instead.  You can often purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets and roadside stands.  In addition to reducing your food mileage by purchasing locally grown produce, you will often notice a significant increase in the quality of the fruits and vegetables purchased locally.

For items that are not easily grown in your climate, there are still options for reducing your food mile impact.  When shopping for an item, look at the label to determine where it was grown or manufactured.  Then, compare that item with its competitors to see if there is an option to purchase food that was created closer to home.  Even if you only compare food miles for one item during each of your shopping trips, you can easily make an impact on the environment over time.  Choosing to purchase food items that are grown or manufactured closer to your home will reduce the energy required to transport those foods to you.

Reducing your food mileage consumption, even by a little bit, can have a large impact on the environment.  If everyone chose to purchase locally grown food instead of imported food, there would be a significant drop in greenhouse gasses emitted and overall oil consumption due to food transportation.  Even a small change can help the environment.

Related posts:

  1. Purchasing Food Locally in an Eco-Friendly Way
  2. Is Organic Baby Food Harmful?
  3. Go Green with Your Java Bean
  4. How Food Labels Lie to Us
  5. Canned Food Environment Effects
  6. Become Organic and Start Going Green


  1. Lisa Thomas says:

    We raise chickens for eggs to reduce our impact, and we always have a meal at hand. We use the fertilizer they provide to grow our tomatoes. The hens eat most of our food scraps, reducing our garbage output & their grain consumption. We compost their eggshells and whatever else they don’t eat. You don’t need much space to raise a few chickens & reduce your footprint.

  2. It is ridiculous how much the food travels to get to our plates in this country. It’s so easy to grow a few fruits/vegetables even in an apartment and buy as much food locally . We as a society have just gotten used to having every fruits and vegetable available to use year round and it really needs to stop.

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