Eating local

Will Wilkinson serves up his wisdom:

How far your food travels matters a lot less than what kind of food it is, or how it was produced. According to a recent study out of Carnegie Mellon University, the distance traveled by the average American’s dinner rose about 25 percent from 1997 to 2004, due to increasing global trade. But carbon emissions from food transport saw only a 5 percent bump, thanks to the efficiencies of vast cargo container ships.  [TC: do note that precedes the rapid run-up of oil prices.]

A tomato raised in a heated greenhouse next door can be more carbon-intensive than one shipped halfway across the globe. And cows spew a lot more greenhouse gas than hens, or kumquats, so eating just a bit less beef can do more carbon-wise than going completely local. It’s complicated.

Addressing the cool folks, Will adds:

Should we minimize our “music miles” and boycott bands on tour? Thankfully, our next-door neighbors have a band, Dead Larry. We don’t have to go anywhere to hear them.

Here is the full CMU study cited by Will on food miles.  In my view we do have duties to behave more responsibly at the dinner table but the simple admonition "eat less meat" will do.  Maybe you don’t like tofu but sardines are delicious, or use Goya small red beans with shredded Mexican cheese (even the Kraft package is decent) and ground chile on a corn tortilla.  Don’t forget the lime on top.


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