Think and act.
University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
Recommended by:
Society of Biology
PEEP for Physics & Ethics at GCSE
 

The Carbon
Express


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Food Mile Facts

Question: What are the facts about food miles?
 

Background:

Listed below are some Food Mile facts and the source of the information.

  1. The UK produces 19 million tons CO2 transporting food.
    10 million of this is emitted in the UK.  >> Source
  2. Every year we move 333 million tonnes of food across the UK, generating 41.5 billion tonne-kilometres of transport.  >>Source
  3. Since 1978 the amount of food moved about within the UK by HGV has increased by 23% and the average distance for each trip has jumped by 50%.  >>Source
  4. Imports of indigenous foods rose from 13.5m tonnes in 1992 to 16.1m tonnes in 2002.  >>Source
  5. 95% of fruit and 50% of vegetables eaten in the UK are imported.  >> Source
  6. The amount of food air-freighted around the world has risen by 140% since 1992  >>Source
  7. If all foods were sourced from within 20km of where they were consumed, the country would save £2.1bn in environmental and congestion costs. >>Source
  8. Locally sourced carrots had 20 Food miles whilst conventionally sourced were 1,838 miles.
    The average for all vegetables for local and conventionally sourced are 56 miles and 1,494 miles
    Iowa State University – ‘Checking the food odometer’.
     

Your task:

  • Try and find a food that you could buy in a UK food shop that has the highest food mile count.

Discussion:

  • How accurate do you think these facts are?
  • By buying local ‘low food mile foods’ might mean that people elsewhere might lose their jobs. Is this ethically justified?
  • What other effects besides carbon emissions do high food miles have on food and people?

Next station:

Find out how you can estimate food miles accurately.

Food Mile CALCULATORS