"Food miles" are stupid

This is not news, but I hadn't really appreciated it until digging into the impressive success story of Kenyan horticulture recently. Feeling threatened by Kenya's initial success, UK's organic trade organization proposed stigmatizing - or even outright banning - products flown in from far-off countries on the basis of greenhouse gas emissions.

This ignores, unfortunately, the emissions from many other phases of food production, e.g. heating greenhouses to grow tomatoes in the winter in northern Europe. Here are a few choice quotes from a good Guardian article on "How the myth of food miles hurts the planet":
But the idea that 'only local is good' has come under attack. For a start, food grown in areas where there is high use of fertilisers and tractors is likely to be anything but carbon-friendly, it is pointed out. At the same time the argument against food miles - which show how far a product has been shipped and therefore how much carbon has been emitted in its transport - has been savaged by experts. 'The concept of food miles is unhelpful and stupid. It doesn't inform about anything except the distance travelled,' Dr Adrian Williams, of the National Resources Management Centre at Cranfield University, told The Observer last week.
'Half the people who boycott air-freighted beans think they are doing some good for the environment. Then they go on a budget airline holiday to Prague the next weekend,' adds Bill Vorley, head of sustainable markets for the International Institute for Environment and Development. 'They are just making gestures.'

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