[permaculture] The eco-diet ... and it's not just about food miles

lbsaltzman at aol.com lbsaltzman at aol.com
Tue Jun 12 11:59:43 EDT 2007

This article makes some good points but I think the article takes too narrow a view and is a little superficial.  First of all cutting back on the 2% impact of food travelling long distances does help the environment in general and global warming in particular.  Secondly, food travelling long distances is most often industrial food that is grown in a monoculture land destroying way.  It is part of the corporate globalization of everything that is destroying local economies.  

Buying local food movements are more likely to lead the buyers to small organic farms which are usually better for the environment and which offer fresher healthier food. The re-localizing food initiative also frequently involves home growers as well. It certainly does in my community.  It also is a community building, local economy building movement that has many secondary benefits for the health of the community.  Re-localizing food also tends to bypass large industrial food distributors and large box store retail sites.  That is definitely good for the environment and the health of communities.

-----Original Message-----
From: Saor Stetler <sstetler at earthlink.net>
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 7:32 am
Subject: [permaculture] The eco-diet ... and it's not just about food miles

The eco-diet ... and it's not just about food miles
. Focus on distance is too narrow, say researchers
 'Only 2%' of impact due to transport from farm to shop
James Randerson, science correspondent
onday June 4, 2007
Consumers need more information about the environmental impact of the food
n their shopping basket if they are to make eco-friendly choices, according
o researchers who have carried out a detailed analysis of the ecological
osts associated with food. They argue that the focus on "food miles" is
issing the bigger picture and may be counter-productive.
Food stores such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer have said that they will label
roducts that have been transported by air. But according to the
esearchers, only around 2% of the environmental impact of food comes from
ransporting it from farm to shop. The vast majority of its ecological
ootprint comes from food processing, storage, packaging and growing
onditions. So food grown locally could have a considerably bigger footprint
han food flown halfway around the world, and consumers who make their
hoices on air miles alone may be doing more environmental harm, according
o the scientists.
"I'm a bit worried about the food miles [debate] because it is educating the
onsumer in the wrong way. It is such an insignificant point," said Ruth
airchild at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff. "Those [foods]
ould have been produced using pesticides that have travelled all the way
round the world. If you just take food miles, it is the tiny bit on the
A better system, she argues, would be one that considers all environmental
mpacts from farm to dinner plate. One option is ecological footprint
nalysis, which takes into account the amount of land needed to provide the
esources to produce food, both directly on the farm and indirectly from the
nergy that goes into growing, harvesting, processing, packaging and
ransporting it. A food's impact is measured in "global hectares", the
otional land area needed to produce it. But she thinks that consumers are
ot yet ready for ecological footprint labelling and the science behind it
s not yet watertight.
To help confused consumers, Dr Fairchild and colleague Andrea Collins at
ardiff University have used the ecological footprint concept to develop a
et of eco-diets designed to minimise the impact of food consumption on the
lanet. Sticking to the diets does not mean eating lentils all day, but the
ost eco-friendly diet excludes wine, spirits, chocolate, ice cream and most
eat. The study is published in the journal Sustainable Food Consumption.
The diets are based on an analysis of the ecological footprint associated
ith the food consumed by the average Cardiff resident in a week. The three
iets are progressively more austere in their ecological footprint, with the
ost ascetic allowing only foods with a footprint of less than 0.002 global
ectares per kilogramme. This meant replacing around one in six food items
ith less eco-profligate fare which had a similar nutritional makeup . This
iet has a 40% lower ecological footprint than the typical Cardiff diet.
Most meat is pushed out of the super-eco-diet because feeding livestock is
nergy intensive. Cheese is also out because of the large amounts of energy
hat go into processing it and refrigerating it in storage. The footprint
or wine is just too high, while sprits and chocolate have a per kilogramme
ootprint which is around double the cut-off point. Bread, vegetables,
akes, biscuits, eggs, pork, ham, bacon and milk are all acceptable.
A typical day on the diet
Breakfast: Cereal and milk, tea/coffee (from weekly allowance half as large
s normal diet)
Toast and jam (or marmalade)
Lunch: Avocado and poached egg with toast
Black-eye bean, rocket and pinenut salad
Dinner: Spinach, leek and pinenut risotto with yoghurt.
Fruit salad
Pork cassoulet with mustard, honey and cinnamon, served with green salad.
weet pancakes with jam, honey, tahini, chocolate sauce or yoghurt
Drinks/Treats: Two glasses of beer, pack of fruit pastilles, two Jaffa Cakes
One can cola and nine boiled sweets 
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