#Summit’19: How Does our Food Reach Us?

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Cambria McCalla

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Produce+bin.+Photo+by+Pixabay.
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#Summit’19: How Does our Food Reach Us?

Produce bin. Photo by Pixabay.

Produce bin. Photo by Pixabay.

Produce bin. Photo by Pixabay.

Produce bin. Photo by Pixabay.

In today’s fast-paced world we seldom think of where our food comes from. We are more interested in fast and convenient options as well as getting what we want when we want it regardless of the growing/harvesting season. Efficient shipping methods allow us year-round fresh produce of every imaginable variety. Strawberries will always be on our shelves. But how? The process is long and structured with many checkpoints to ensure that our food is in peak freshness and quality when it reaches our grocery shelves.

Produce leaving the farms. Food Transportation Services Sun LogisticsMogappair, Chennai

American fridges are stocked with fruit from across the globe. The crops are picked at their peak freshness and loaded into refrigerated centers with regulated temperatures depending on the produce. It typically cycles around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The produce is then cleaned and packaged. Once the packaging stage is completed, the goods are ready to be shipped by trains, planes, and automobiles. This allows transport from farm to grocery shelves in about two weeks.

Produce as air freight. Maria Kraynova, Shutterstock.

This is all well and good, but there is a price to be paid for convenience driven efficiency. The greater the speed the more ecologically harmful. The massive amounts of jet fuel needed to deliver our products in two days are astronomically more polluting than the slower yet less environmentally taxing freight shipping options. The environmental concerns are not lost on our world’s governments. Summits have proposed taxing fuel required to ship our groceries. The trouble lies in the inconsistency of these regulations across the globe, and this proved less effective than previously anticipated. Our demand is quickly outgrowing our supply. The tomatoes native to Spain are now being grown in greenhouses during the off seasons to meet the demand. Thus, copious amounts of water and energy are used which is effectively altering the native environment increasing humidity and impacting the surrounding communities. Similar impacts are evident across the globe for a multitude of crops.

The ultimate power lies within the consumer. The consumer chooses to purchase imported and out of season produce. The U.K. is attempting to alert the consumer to the carbon footprint created by each product on their grocery store shelves with the intention of better informing the consumer. The average consumer holds the power to choose to reduce their own impact on the environment. Choosing to buy seasonal and local produce is a step towards lowering the demand for imported goods which in turn strengthens the agriculture within one’s community and reduces the overall environmental impact.

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