What are food miles?

My Food Bag’s Georgia ‘Salsa’ unpacks food miles and shares some handy tips for lowering your food mileage.

food miles

Food miles are the measure of the distance that food travels from farm to consumer. They also more broadly explain the complex impacts that come with the ever-growing food system, such as contribution to climate change, traffic congestion and energy use. [1] Simply put, foods that have travelled large distances accumulate more energy consumption, which means more carbon emissions, than foods travelling smaller distances.

It makes sense then, that food coming from overseas will have a much greater impact on the environment than food grown and produced here in New Zealand. While shopping locally is beneficial for many reasons, reducing food miles is up there with one of the most important. Imported produce and products can be convenient and sometimes necessary. Sadly it’s not always easy to find, for example, perfect tropical fruit that’s grown here. However, by committing to making a few small changes when doing your food shop, you can reduce your contribution of food miles hugely. It’s a small weekly change, that can create a big impact.

Looking at the food you fill your fridge with every week is a great way to start shopping more thoughtfully and environmentally aware. Each food product uses different amounts of energy to produce, as well as travels different distances to reach the shelf. Aiming to buy foods that are grown and produced closer to home is a great place to start, and not as complicated as it sounds.

At My Food Bag, 98% of our fresh food and produce is sourced locally right here in New Zealand. We love connecting with local suppliers who follow high standards of environmentally aware conduct, and supporting them by delivering their incredible fresh produce, grown right in here in New Zealand, to our foodies each week!

Here are three easy starting points to lower your food miles:

  1. Read before you buy
    Local brands usually want to make it known that they are New Zealand grown or produced, so take a look at the labels before picking between your brands. Try to opt for the ones proudly NZ labelled.
  2. Shop seasonally
    Seasonal produce is most likely going to be locally sourced. If you’re buying raspberries in the middle of winter, then there is a pretty good chance they have travelled a fair way to get to the supermarket.
  3. Grow your own
    There is no shorter distance than from the backyard to your kitchen, so a simple veggie garden is the ultimate win. If you’re not a seasoned pro, start small by picking two or three veggies or herbs to plant. You might just get hooked!

[1] https://wwwuat.landcareresearch.co.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/39927/food_miles.pdf

Oct 15, 2020 | Blog, Sustainability

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