Monday, August 6, 2007

Food for thought

The New York Times has an eye-opening Op-Ed today about "food miles," or the distance a piece of food travels to reach your plate, be it beef, avocados or zucchini. With eating locally becoming all the rage for environmentally conscious folk, it's important to keep in mind that the energy cost of a given food is more than the sum of it's plane rides; one must consider the energy that goes into producing the food as well. How much fertilizer did that plant need to grow? Did the tomato need to be kept in a greenhouse, or did it grow outside?

I'm loving how much people have started thinking about their food, but clearly there's more work to be done. Is there some way to label fruits, vegetables and meats to give an indication of the amount of energy required to produce the food, taking all of these factors into account? Some mass database that will spit the number out for each food item at a given grocery store? Such a database would certainly require the cooperation of the farmers, but maybe these farmers will be more and more willing to participate as people's awareness continues to grow.

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