Transition Whatcom

Great report on the energy inputs for food.

"Tansportation is the smallest piece of the food system energy pie. Even farming isn’t a particularly big contributor. The big energy users turn out to be food processing, packaging, selling, and preparation. Our kitchens command the biggest slice of the pie, using twice as much energy as the farms that grew the food in the first place.

Dissecting that little transportation component of the system offers more surprises. The distance food travels between farm and fork has little impact on how much energy it takes to get there."



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Some good points in the article, but also some misleading ones. 

I appreciated some of the comments to the article posted on the Energy Bulletin.


One from EB editor Bart Anderson:

"Good points in the article, but the author is attacking a straw man. I really doubt that there are too many people who are single-mindedly pursuing food localization. The group in the UK who originally put out the concepts of food miles, etc. were well aware of the other factors and articulated them in their report. (I don't have the reference at hand unfortunately).

There are many reasons for buying local aside from energy considerations:
1) Builds stronger communities
2) Supports local farmers
3) Increases resilience (less reliance on long supply lines)
4) Raises interest in local food traditions
5) Much easier to find out how the local food is grown/raised than if it comes from faraway.

One of the most compelling reasons is that getting involved with local food is fun. It's an exciting approach that gets people enthusiastic."
And one comment from an Energy Bulletin reader who to me appears to be Walter Haugen (my educated guess):
"If you want to compare transport costs, you can do so by calculating calories in a gallon of gas (31,000) or gallon of diesel (35,000) times the gallons used divided by the pounds of food delivered. By this metric a pound of food traveling 1500 miles on a semi at 5 miles per gallon carries a calorie load of 210 calories if on a 50,000 pound load and 263 if on a 40,000 pound load. By comparison, I can take 500 pounds of food to a local farmers market (25 miles roundtrip) on my little truck that gets 18 miles per gallon for a transport calorie load of 86 calories. If you are NOT calculating a difference between going 5 miles to a farmers market and 150 miles to a farmers market and 1500 miles on average to a supermarket, you are not only intellectually dishonest, but you are not furthering your cause of reducing energy use. Get a grip and actually crunch the numbers.

If you are going to buy into the macro view of averaging out industry energy use, you will ALWAYS be subject to attacks from both the rightwing apologists for the status quo, as well as real scientists."
Having noted the above, it is important also to be aware of the high energy costs that the article points out that go into food handling, processing, and storing.

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