DEFRA Study About Impact of 'Food Miles'

This study by the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) goes well with our previous post about the 100 miles diet. The findings are not very surprising, but it's interesting to see some quantitative data: The cost of moving found around in the UK is as much as £9 billion a year ($15.7 billion), half of that due to traffic congestion. The quantity of food moved by truck has doubled since 1974 and the DEFRA reports that 25% of all miles covered by heavy goods traffic was to move food. "Consumers travel an average of 898 miles a year by car to shop for food [...] In 2002, food transport produced 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, of which 10 Million tonnes were emitted in the UK and 9 million tonnes were generated by food imports." The change from frequent shopping – on foot – in local shops to weekly shopping in supermarkets by car is a factor.The four key findings of the study are:

1. A single indicator based on total food kilometres is an inadequate indicator of sustainability.

2. Data is available to provide and update a meaningful set of indicators on an annual basis.

3. Food transport has significant and growing impacts.

4. The direct environmental, social and economic costs of food transport are over £9 billion each year, and are dominated by congestion.

You can read the full report here (in pdf format) for all the details.

::The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development, via ::BBC