In the late 90’s and early 00’s after the release of a couple well publicised UK and US studies, food miles, the distance food travels from farm to shop, became the standard for measuring our food related footprint. And although food miles drew our attention to the environmental impact of our food choices the problem with using food miles is that it is only one piece of the food system puzzle. Unfortunately more holistic but also more complex ways to measure food system sustainability such as Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) that could give us a much better picture of our food footprint haven’t received the same kind of publicity as food miles (apart from a much quoted Lincoln University study that concluded imported New Zealand lamb had a carbon footprint ¼ of its local British counterpart. For a little debunking of this study see http://www.ethicurean.com/2007/08/10/shuman-on-lamb/ ).

Adding to the food miles picture is recent thinking suggesting that all of our driving to and from the supermarket is an even larger energy user than transporting food from the farm. Which tells us that to really reduce our food miles as well as buying local, we should be walking, riding & taking public transport to the shops. We can also get home delivery, join food co-ops or carpool and shop by car less frequently rather than multiple times per week. But this is still just focussing on food miles, below are some suggestions for ways to lower the overall energy foodprint of our food choices:

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