What's Your Food Mileage?
L. Scott Jackson
County Extension Director
As we celebrate the Holiday Season many memories come to mind. Remembering my own family traditions, a multitude of experiences; faces; places; and even smells come alive from the past. A common theme revisited time and time again is food! Everyone brought a dish to share. With the dish came the love and warmth they put into making it. But the food started on a journey to my family’s house long before Christmas or New Years Day.
An article in National Geographic (October 2007) the author cites a study, “…the average bite of food has traveled nearly 1,500 miles before it reaches an American’s lips, which means it’s been marinated in (crude) oil.” Another source states, the average American meal contains ingredients from at least five other countries. Suddenly, my holiday dinner and associated memories don’t have the same appeal.
According to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University, a food mile is the distance food travels from where it is grown or raised to where it is ultimately purchased by the consumer. Knowing your food mileage can help you make wise consumer choices by taking into account more than just the price tag.
Here is an exercise. Make a list of everything you have for a meal and answer these questions:
1. Origin: Where did these foods come from? By origin we are not referring to things as the peas came from a can or the milk from a cow. Origin refers to which part of the world or country was the food grown or raised.
2. Transportation: How did foods originating in different parts of the world get to your table? What major water bodies had to be crossed during the transportation of a particular food? In essence, how far did your food travel?
So, I need your help! If some of you would share your holiday menu, I’ll analyze it and report a few examples in the next article. We’ll see what food mileage we have right here in Northwest Florida.
A local or self-reliant approach prevents disruptions in our food supply during times of crisis when we have low energy supplies, high transportation costs, natural disasters, or other trying events. Northwest Florida is blessed to have essential assets to address these potential problems. There are solutions which we’ll present in future news articles and our Extension education programs. Have a blessed Christmas and Holiday Season. If you would like further information please visit our website (http://solutionsforyourlife.com).