The “Food Miles” theory of sustainability just seems to make intuitive sense. The farther your food has to travel to get to your table, the more energy is consumed. According to a UK Guardian article that listed the foods that travel farthest to get to Great Britain:
Lettuce: From Spain, a journey of 958 miles. It takes 127 calories of energy (in the form of aviation fuel) to import one calorie of lettuce across the Atlantic, according the research group Sustain, yet we import lettuce out of season from California or from southern Europe.
Food producers in New Zealand, which sends a third of its produce halfway around the world to the EU, would like to differ. And now they have a study to prove it. Food blog Slashfood today links to news of a New Zealand study that finds that the number of miles a food had traveled was not a reliable indicator of its environmental impact. Reasons to be skeptical: While the study wasn’t actually done by the New Zealand Agricultural and Trade ministries, they are enthusiastically endorsing it. “The concept of food miles is both flawed and too often promoted by those motivated by self-serving objectives rather than genuine environmental concerns,” New Zealand agriculture minister Jim Anderton said. “It is being used in Europe by self-interested parties trying to justify protectionism in another guise.”