Transportation, moreover, is only small piece of the waste inherent in a conventional nonlocal food

May 9, 2015

Transportation, moreover, is only small piece of the waste inherent in a conventional nonlocal food system. Analysis of a typical food dollar spent in the United States by Stewart Smith, former Secretary of Agriculture in Maine, suggests that 73 cents go to distribution, 20 cents for inputs, and 7 cents to the farmer. Only a small part of distribution is transportation. Most of it is refrigeration, packaging, wholesalers, advertisers, and so forth. In other words, the Lincoln University team in New Zealand analyzed only about a third of industrial agriculture system, and ignored the two thirds of the system that can be substantially cut down through localization. IN SAME SHUMAN ARTICLE HIGHER UP: Here’s what the James McWilliams wrote on August 6: “Researchers at Lincoln University in New Zealand…recently published a study challenging the premise that more food miles automatically mean greater fossil fuel consumption….[T]hey found that lamb raised on New Zealand’s clover-choked pastures and shipped 11,000 miles by boat to Britain produced 1,520 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per ton while British lamb produced 6,280 pounds of carbon dioxide per ton, in part because poorer British pastures force farmers to use feed. In other words, it is four times more energy-efficient for Londoners to buy lamb imported from the other side of the world than to buy it from a producer in their backyard.” Who were these esteemed researchers? One, Caroline Saunders, heads The Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University. Assisting her was Andrew Barber, an Agriculture Engineering Consultant with a private consulting firm called The AgriBusiness Group. I don’t begrudge New Zealand’s desire to protect its export industries, but these researchers are hardly agenda-free.

 

Michael Shuman, "On the Lamb," August 10, 2007 article responding to oped August 6 in New York Times BY James McWilliams, Food that Travels Well.

Please reload