Food Transportation

The Lempert Report
June 30, 2022

Phil: Nature food, the publication, published research that shows the food miles, the distance between the place where food has grown to our plates has a much higher carbon footprint than was previously estimated. The carbon cost is actually around 19% of all food related transportation emissions. That's four times what they originally thought it would be. And if we combine the US, France, Germany, and Japan, and crunch those numbers, that that represents 12% of the world's population, but about 50% of the emissions associated with food transport. So we really have a significant problem as it relates to it. 

Phil: And what, what this study says is, Sally, what you and I have been talking about for 20 years, that if you eat local, if you eat what's in season, bottom line, is those numbers drop significantly. Trying to buy, you know, strawberries in January that are imported from another country that really adds to the problem. So maybe finally we can get people to eat local and what's in season. And also by the way, what's in season means it's got better flavor, it's got more nutrients and it's less expensive. So all of that, and now we have proof that it's much better for the environment as well. So what, you know, what recommendations are they making that we really need to pay attention to? 

Sally: Yeah, so they are talking about eating locally and eating seasonally. Exactly what you're saying. We have to think about those higher emissions for fruits and vegetables are largely because they require refrigeration as there are high cost to this. I however, feel like just trying to message to consumers, eat locally, eat seasonal foods. Isn't gonna cut it. And, you know, I don't know about you, Phil. I mean, I do know that living in California, that you have access to local fruits and vegetables that do come at a lower cost, but here in Tennessee, where I am, if we go to the farmer's market and buy from local farmers, it's really expensive. And your average person can't afford to do that. You know? So I really feel like the retailers have gotta get involved in providing and promoting these seasonal local products for people. 

Phil: Absolutely. And this research also points out that right now, your home state of Georgia, is cantaloupe, peaches and zucchini, but in Oregon, it's rhubarb, ondives and apples. So I think this time of year is much better to be in Georgia than in Oregon. They also said that if the entire population of the planet ate locally, the carbon emissions would drop by about a third of a giga ton. That's significant, incredible.

Sally: That's incredible. 

Phil: And, I noticed that you pulled from tasting a list of meat alternatives, because what they really are saying is if you wanna make a big difference, you want to move to more plant-based. We've heard that over and over again. Transportation associated with fruits and vegetables add up to around 36% of the total food mile emissions, that's over a billion, tons of carbon dioxide, nearly doubling the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from their production. Meat production emits around 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide, but transportation costs a little over a hundred million tons. So as we're going into the summer, barbecue time burger time, what should people think of as alternatives? 

Sally: Yes, well, we've been hearing a lot about mushrooms lately. A big trend and mushrooms are a great ingredient to, make up for, you know, you can supplement supplement ground beef with mushrooms so that you're not eating as much beef. Lentils are a great source for this. We can look at seitan, and tofu. Also, always beans are great. Again, I'm gonna call out the food retailers and those retail dietitians that we love working with, you know, to really help consumers learn how to use these substitutes so that they can cut down on their meat. 

Phil: Absolutely. And, the Good Food Institute reports that now there's over 800 brands globally, that focus largely on creating plant-based alternatives to meet dairy and eggs.