Going the extra mile.

After reading the current edition of 'G magazine: Green Living Made Easy' I am pondering the questions around food miles, sourcing food locally and sustainability. Before I thought it was basically as simple as local or nearby was always best, but on further research there are more questions I am needing to be asking.

The article 'going the extra mile' discusses the other factors to consider - "The overriding criticism of food miles as a sole measure of a food's environmental credentials is that the distance food travels forms only a small fraction of its total environmental impact... In a 2007 report, researchers at New Zealand's Lincoln University found that if life cycle analyses were used to compare the environmental impact of products like apples, onions, lamb and dairy instead of food miles alone, NZ's exports suddely looked a whole lot more eco-friendly. Energy efficient production processes and less pesticide use saw all 4 products come up trumps over the emissions of their European counterparts, even once transport was factored in." It is the same as flower imports to the UK - it is more eco-friendly to purchase flowers grown in Kenya which must travel further than flowers from within Europe, due to the different means of production. These Kenyan farmers have been unfairly discriminated against due to the 'food-mile' concept, even though the Kenyan flowers are produced sustainable by only sun, water and people - rather than by chemicals and energy intensive European methods. These flowers from Kenya are 20% less emissions intensive!

So, I have discovered the best way to buy is to be informed about the product! Not for it to just be grown in my region, but to be grown as sustainable as possible. "Food miles aren't actually taking us towards the type of system we need to achieve in terms of climate change or food sustainability." The production of food occurs within a complex system, and one which we need to understand and influence more!

For me, local is grown in Australia, within a 5 hour radius of the point of purchase, and as seasonal as possible. If I can get local, as well as sustainable, organic or produced under fair-trade conditions - then I'm onto a winner!

G Magazine is very helpful in causing me to think about the best way to buy, and the questions to be asking:
Green: when choosing between local or certified organic, choose organic.
Greener: to research and find suppliers who stock organic, local and fair trade foods.
Greenest: Grow as much of your own food as you can! This way we can all be sure it has been grown sustainably with zero food miles!

Yay - I can celebrate this list on many levels even as I am learning more about sustainability: To be working at Green Collective provides me with access to local, fair trade and organic products, and I have finally been able to eat food grown by myself and my husband in our own vegie garden!