Sustainable Living: 3M FuturewiseTown PlanIntroductionGo BackGo Next3M


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Buying apples

So should we all eat local food?

Sometimes locally produced food uses more energy to grow (e.g. in heated, lit greenhouses) than food that is flown in from a climate where the food can grow naturally. For example, growing tomatoes in heated greenhouses in the UK or Ireland in winter uses more energy than importing tomatoes grown in Spain. The tomatoes grown in Spain in the winter are grown under plastic using fertilisers and water but no extra heat or light is needed.

Another problem with looking at food miles is it ignores energy savings that are made when large quantities of food are moved around. Imagine a small family farm produces 10 tonnes of potatoes to sell at a local food market. The farm has a small truck that can only carry 1 tonne. If the farm is located 100 miles away from the market, each potato only travels 100 food miles, but 10 trips are required to bring all the food to market. Now consider a large farm located 1,000 miles away with a 10-tonne truck. The potatoes would travel 1,000 food miles. A bigger truck would be needed but this would only use slightly more fuel than the small truck and overall there would be much less fuel used per potato.