Monday, February 18, 2008

Food miles or fair miles - who can tell

Just when you thought making the right choice was being made easy for you, along comes one of those reports that throw everything into a spin.

Carbon emissions from shipping freight has been found to be twice as bad as we thought and growing at an alarming rate. We had been led to believe that buying food that has been air freighted was an ethical no no. We weighed up the cost of supporting say Kenyan farmers who relied upon us paying top dollar for air-freighted snow peas against the damage to the environment from transport aviation. The Kenyans lost out. We said no. Then a Kiwi study found distance was not necessarily the problem. Now we are told it is just as bad to buy food shipped here. It's like those conflicting reports about cancer and wine. One week we are told it helps combat it, only to be told a week later that some scientist somewhere says it breeds it.

It is hard to know who to trust and where to go. Not that we have that much guidance from the food industry, although recently Woolies and the peak body for the grocers announced they are undertaking a study measuring the climate change impact of food, beverage and grocery products. Maybe then we can expect to be given proper guidance over what is the most ethical choice.

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