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  1. #1
    The Other White Meat BroMax's Avatar
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    How Far Food Travels From Field to Fork

    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/55335/

    Apologies if this is redundant but I've been away for long spell.
    The link is to a video produced by Molly Schwartz for The Nation.
    Food production, processing, refrigeration and transportation consumes more energy than the food itself contains, unless you grow your own or someone nearby grows it. Maybe that isn't news to most of us but the brief video illustrates it very well.
    Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

    -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  2. #2
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    So, what's your point? Attempts to develop alternate energy sources for human power haven't gone too well.

  3. #3
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Buy local, like the video shows at the end. Fresher, better, and who knows, those farmers may come buy a pair of innertubes one day from your bike store.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    Why is it people assume if I cycle I must be anti car, anti gas, pro environment, etc etc etc ?
    Its a nutrition forum, the distance it travels doesn't change its nutritional value for me.
    I'm supposed to give up sushi because rice isn't grown within 100 miles ? Don't think so.

    Dont we have politics forums this belongs in
    Jarery

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  5. #5
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Produce does show a difference with distance and time however. I go to the local farmer's market where I can get oranges, fresh-basil, cabbage, etc. that's much tastier due to being ripe. Without having to worry about packaging and shipping to far-off lands, the farmer can pick their stuff much later.

    But stuff like beef & shrimp, I don't care if it comes from Oz or Thailand. I'd rather not have to endure the smells of beef-processing in my own backyard...

  6. #6
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarery
    Why is it people assume if I cycle I must be anti car, anti gas, pro environment, etc etc etc ?
    Its a nutrition forum, the distance it travels doesn't change its nutritional value for me.
    I'm supposed to give up sushi because rice isn't grown within 100 miles ? Don't think so.

    Dont we have politics forums this belongs in
    Wrong. The less distance the food travels from where you live, the more nutrition left intact. It's the difference between a bananna being picked yellow off the tree and consumed within hours vs. one that's picked green in New Zealand and shipped to the US.

  7. #7
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    So, what's your point? Attempts to develop alternate energy sources for human power haven't gone too well.
    Either that or the oil companies buy up all the alternative energy patents and companies?

  8. #8
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarery
    Its a nutrition forum, the distance it travels doesn't change its nutritional value for me.
    I'm supposed to give up sushi because rice isn't grown within 100 miles ? Don't think so.

    Dont we have politics forums this belongs in
    I don't see anything political in this? Don't give up sushi, don't give up Chateau Lafite, who cares? I prefer my beef from OZ and my lamb from NZ. The less time your food spends on a ship in the gas chamber the better it is.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina
    It's the difference between a bananna being picked yellow off the tree and consumed within hours vs. one that's picked green in New Zealand and shipped to the US.
    Except there are no bananas grown within 100 miles of most Canadian cities. Its a great idea, just impractical for many.
    Jarery

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  10. #10
    GATC
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    Supermarket produce is bred for color and transportability (ability to be bounced around in a truck for however long it takes) first. Farmer's market produce is more likely to have been bred for flavor first and less likely to have had nutrition selected *out* (inadvertently).

    I was so bummed to go to a meeting in California and find a tray of costco strawberries, gleaming red on the outside, styrofoam white on the inside, no flavor, being served right there in sight of actual agriculture!!!

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    I can't help but wonder how large a "local area" would be required to supply all the food for NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, or any other large metropolitan area. There's a reason why the midwest has lots of farm land despite having few people.

    The problem with ideas like buy local produce is that they work fine for a few. But if you were to get a significant participation by the local population, you would quickly find severe shortages of local produce in many areas. Add to that the fact that many kinds of produce are not available locally and/or not available year round and you quickly realize why we devote significant energy to transporting food around.

  12. #12
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Truth is you can supply a person with six months worth of veggies from a 10x10 plot of land. That's a small rooftop garden in SF. We're just spoiled. Fruit is a little more problematic, but it's still possible to go local. Heck for about two months out of the year I manage to pick enough berries for couple dozen jars of jam, and the morels in the spring, jeez!

    If only we could buy 1/4 of our produce locally we'd be conserving a whole hella gas.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
    .
    I was so bummed to go to a meeting in California and find a tray of costco strawberries, gleaming red on the outside, styrofoam white on the inside, no flavor, being served right there in sight of actual agriculture!!!
    So traveling in a truck is what caused the strawberries to go styrofoam white on the inside? Or was it the high volume quick grow methods that were employed to grow them?
    Jarery

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    -If two bikes are going in the same direction, ITS A RACE!

  14. #14
    GATC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarery
    So traveling in a truck is what caused the strawberries to go styrofoam white on the inside? Or was it the high volume quick grow methods that were employed to grow them?
    Breeding them so they don't get squished flat when transported. Growing industrial strawberry strains slowly and with loving care, watered with handpumped spring water, fertilizing only with individually hook and line caught Nova Scotia shad will still produce a bright red on the outside white on the inside pingpong ball.

  15. #15
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
    Supermarket produce is bred for color and transportability (ability to be bounced around in a truck for however long it takes) first. Farmer's market produce is more likely to have been bred for flavor first and less likely to have had nutrition selected *out* (inadvertently).

    I was so bummed to go to a meeting in California and find a tray of costco strawberries, gleaming red on the outside, styrofoam white on the inside, no flavor, being served right there in sight of actual agriculture!!!
    Heh heh yeah. Summer here is all about wild strawberries. I don't wanna call them frais du bois but they're really yummy, tiny, and sweet, and smell like a perfume.

  16. #16
    Senior Member slim_77's Avatar
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    I think more local = more fresh and imo, just damn tastier. Nothing more lifeless and bland than a hot house tomato. If people were more selective about what they consumed local would be better but somehow taste buds have utterly disappeared in many of our people and location inhibits others.

    Politically speaking, there are thousands of jobs that rely upon the transport industry. Local is better, but I also love mangos, pina, jicama, y plantanos...and nothing greater than 4-6% cyclical unemployment.

    BTW, in aggregate we export more corn than we import because we can import cheaper corn and then sell ours at a higher price abroad (god save the farmer)...interesting balance we have struck.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
    Breeding them so they don't get squished flat when transported. .
    So its not the transporting at all that 'ruined' the strawberries. Its the growing method. What do people do who live close to these bad strawberry mass production plants do? They buy local and STILL get crappy berries.

    Or is the point not so much that travel is ruining the nutritional value of food, but big business and large corporations. And maybe the point should be buy from small organic farms and not large corporate hot houses.
    Jarery

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  18. #18
    Senior Member Jaleel Johanson's Avatar
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    Food production, processing, refrigeration and transportation consumes more energy than the food itself contains, unless you grow your own or someone nearby grows it.
    I don't like to live my life eating sushi with my head buried in the sand, so I'm always willing to re-evaluate what I otherwise take for granted. With that said, over unity gain is pretty much impossible no matter what we do.

  19. #19
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarery
    So its not the transporting at all that 'ruined' the strawberries. Its the growing method. What do people do who live close to these bad strawberry mass production plants do? They buy local and STILL get crappy berries.

    Or is the point not so much that travel is ruining the nutritional value of food, but big business and large corporations. And maybe the point should be buy from small organic farms and not large corporate hot houses.
    In the case of strawberries, chances are that berries imported from far away need to be harvested early so the ripen during transit. It may be that the berries are not yet fully ripe. Certainly, strawberries, or any fruit, that is allowed to ripen on the plant will be more flavorful than one that has to be harvested early.

    The produce most noted for suffering from commercialization is, of course, the tomato. Tomatoes are very fragile so they need to either be bred for transit, or specially packaged to survive the trip from field to market. It doesn't take much abuse to ruin a tomato so unless you are buying from a local farmer at the field or very close to it, chances are that the tomatoes are going to need to be rugged varieties.

  20. #20
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Yeah, the tomatoes in the store have been genetically modified to have thicker skins to survive transport. They also taste completely bland compared to what I grow in the backyard.

  21. #21
    Senior Member EastOfMidnight's Avatar
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    This issue is highly overblown. It appears to assume that everything we eat moves all the way across the country. Given the distribution of our population (36 million in CA alone), that doesn't sound very realistic, does it? There is a huge amount of food produced in the mid west, the south, the Pacific Northwest, and yes, even in the northeast. In addition, a considerable volume moves via reasonably efficient transportation modes (rail, barge); not everything crosses the country in reefer trucks...

    I'm an agricultural economist by profession, and I don't think I'm blowing smoke, or espousing a narrow philosophical perspective.

    No doubt there are concerns with food and fiber production, not the least of which is some piss poor agricultural policy and our ridiculous fixation on corn based ethanol, but the fact is that we are producing more with less inputs (including land, chemicals, water and fuel) than we ever have before.

    The sky is not falling, although I do agree with Lester Brown that we're all gonna die (eventually) ...

    Enjoy the ride.

    JH Bahn

  22. #22
    Senior Member slim_77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EastOfMidnight

    The sky is not falling, although I do agree with Lester Brown that we're all gonna die (eventually) ..

    JH Bahn
    ...I thought that was Malthus.

    Well, even if our food does move all the way across the country, there is no present alternative. In addition, apart from taste, we must consider the layers of added value each food item has in relation to each of the industries it touches along its journey. (jobs or tough tomatoes?) If we don't "add value" then, economically speaking, we stagnate. This is a problem because our economy requires "movement" of various forms. What ever shift we'd like to see must be gradual and--oh no, I'm gonna say it!--sustainable.

    Farmers markets and gardens are great for seasonal flavor, but can not replace many staple items...nor will they.

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