Several articles have flourished around the idea of carbon footprint of food, including groceries and fruit. In an article in the New York Times, the focus is on the environmental costs of shipping groceries around the world. For example, today, markets provide access to fruits almost year round, providing consumers the ability to purchase strawberries, kiwi’s and other fruits 365 days of the year. This has resulted in a large carbon footprint for Food.
But who is to blame? On one side corporations could be viewed as the culprit since they are trying to differentiate themselves based on product offerings…i.e. offering consumers products all year round. As well, globalization has opened the market for competition resulting in cheaper fruits, as well as more varieties. This has resulted in fruits being picked, stored in refrigerators, packaged, transported by air, land or sea, and then further stored at the local market for consumer purchasing.
One the other hand, is it not consumer’s who drive demand? Economics would say yes, so we as consumers who want to have strawberries all year round provide businesses the incentives to fulfill our (“the consumer’s”) needs.
So where do we go from here?
A CNN video on Food’s Carbon Footprint puts the focus on the consumer.
Essentially, we as consumers need to change our traditions. Our culture has to become one with nature. A British food consultant said “Unfortunately we’ve educated our customers to expect cheap food, that they can go to the market to get whatever they want, whenever they want it. All year. 24/7.” I think now we as consumers need to educate the corporations that we want variety based on local produce as much as possible. In terms of fruit, we need to become seasonal. So the next time you as a consumer want to eat strawberries, look for locally produced fruit when in season. Try to shy away from those produced thousands of miles away, flown in by fuel depended aircraft, and packaged and refrigerated for your benefit. We need to change our way of thinking.