Image credit: Roddas
From the very beginning, TreeHugger has been a huge advocate for local food. Ever since Time Magazine declared that local food was going mainstream back in 2007, there's been a steady stream of retailers and restaurateurs getting in on the locavore bandwagon. Heck, we even have a locavore in the White House now. Nevertheless, it's a sad truth that local food isn't always what it's cracked up to be. In fact, many of the 'local' foods on our shelves may have traveled a ridiculously long way to get there.I've already noted that some retailers seem to have trouble correctly labeling local food. A North Carolina Harris Teeter's 'local' tomatoes grown in Mexico are a classic case in point. The problem isn't just, however, that food grown elsewhere is being labeled as local. Sometimes it's also that local food is traveling an awful long way to come right back where it started from.
Steven Morris over at The Guardian picks up the story of the long journey of local food. He explains how a local clotted cream being sold in a Tesco supermarket in Cornwall, UK was made just 2 miles from the store, yet has traveled over 340 miles North to a distribution center in Bristol, only to turn around and come back again. Locally-made Cornish pasties have traveled a similarly circuitous route.
Of course it's important to note that local isn't the be all and end all of eating green—the complete life cycle of your food is what really counts. But in an age of incredible information technology, it seems crazy to have trucks rumbling back and forth for no reason. Food manufacturers might do well to take a look at some more innovative logistical solutions—The Bioregional Charcoal Company's centralized ordering for decentralized supply being a classic case in point.
More on Local Food, Farming and Sustainability
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Are Vertical Farms the Answer After All?