food security information to talk at your Thanksgiving table when as you serve
your garden grown veggies and serve your CSA raised Turkey, courtesy of Hope
Coulter or the Arkansas Hunger Coalition.
>Thursday, November 21,
>Globetrotting Food Will Travel Farther Than Ever This
>Washington, DC- When far-flung families get together
>dinners next week, much of their food will have logged
more miles than
>their relatives and friends around the table, finds a new
study by the
>Worldwatch Institute, an environmental and social policy
>organization based in Washington, D.C. In the United States,
>travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table, as
much as 25
>percent farther than two decades ago.
farther we ship food, the more vulnerable our food system becomes,"
Worldwatch Research Associate Brian Halweil, author of Home Grown:
The Case for
>Local Food in a Global Market. "Many major cities in the US
>limited supply of food on hand. That makes those cities
>vulnerable to anything that suddenly restricts transportation,
>oil shortages or acts of terrorism."
vulnerability is not limited to the United States. The tonnage of
shipped between countries has grown fourfold over the last four
In the United Kingdom, for example, food travels 50 percent
it did two decades ago.
>This reliance on long-distance food
damages rural economies, as farmers
>and small food businesses become the
most marginal link in the sprawling
>food chain. This trend also creates
numerous opportunities along the way
>for contamination, while
contributing to global warming, because of the
>huge quantities of fuel
used for transportation.
>"We are spending far more energy to get
food to the table than the
>energy we get from eating the food. A head of
lettuce grown in the
>Salinas Valley of California and shipped nearly
3,000 miles to
>Washington, D.C., requires about 36 times as much fossil
fuel energy in
>transport as it provides in food energy when it arrives,"
>Surveys have shown that a typical meal-some meat,
grain, fruits, and
>vegetables-using local ingredients entails four to 17
>petroleum consumption in transport than the same meal bought
>conventional food chain.
>While most economists
believe that long-distance food trade is efficient
and nations can buy their food from the lowest-cost
from North America, Asia, and Africa show farm
>communities reap little
benefit, and often suffer as a result of freer
>trade in agricultural
>"The economic benefits of food trade are a myth. The big
>agribusiness monopolies that ship, trade, and process food.
>policies, including the new Farm Bill, tend to favor factory
>giant supermarkets, and long-distance trade, and cheap,
>fossil fuels encourage long-distance shipping. The big losers
>Farmers producing for export often
go hungry as they sacrifice the use
>of their land to feed foreign mouths,
Halweil says. Poor urbanites in
>both the First and Third Worlds find
themselves living in neighborhoods
>without supermarkets, green grocers,
and healthy food choices.
>Halweil points to a vigorous, emerging
local food movement that is
>challenging both the wisdom and practice of
long-distance food shipping.
>"Massive meat recalls, the advent of
genetically engineered food, and
>other food safety crises have built
interest in local food," he says.
>"Rebuilding local food economies is the
first genuine profit-making
>opportunity in farm country in
>In the United States, the number of registered farmers'
>jumped from 300 in the mid-1970s and 1,755 in 1994 to more
>today. Approximately three million people visit these markets
>and spend over $1 billion each year. Innovative restaurants,
>cafeterias, caterers, hospitals, and even supermarkets are
>offer fresh, seasonal foods from local farmers and food
>"Locally grown food served fresh and in season has a
>advantage," says Halweil, "It's harvested at the peak of
>doesn't have to be fumigated, refrigerated, or packaged
>long-distance hauling and long shelf-life." In the United States,
>than half of all tomatoes are harvested and shipped green, and
>artificially ripened upon arrival at their final
>"Of course, a certain amount of food trade is
natural and beneficial.
>But money spent on locally produced foods stays
in the community longer,
>creating jobs, supporting farmers, and
preserving local cuisines and
>crop varieties against the steamroller of
culinary imperialism. And
>developing nations that emphasize greater food
self-reliance can retain
>precious foreign exchange and avoid the
instability of international