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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Global trade is killing the environment
Just one early impact of increasing long-distance trade is the emerging issue of "food miles." The fossil-fuel energy spent to transport food products often exceeds the energy contained in the foods themselves. To add insult to injury, transportation is a major source of carbon-dioxide emissions.

Sustain, a U.K.-based food and farming alliance, has shown that iceberg lettuce flown from Los Angeles to London requires 127 calories of fuel for every food calorie. Sustain also reports that countries often end up swapping food instead of importing critical items that cannot be produced locally. The U.K., for example, imported 126 million liters of milk and exported 270 million liters in 1997.

Researchers at Iowa State University have found that fruits and vegetables travel an average of 1,500 miles within the U.S., a 22 percent increase since 1981. When imported foods are added to the mix, the average distance from farm to the dinner table increases significantly. Studies show that a basic diet with imported ingredients can easily consume four times the fossil-fuel energy and emit four times the carbon dioxide compared to domestically produced ingredients.
-- Salon