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Local food, food miles and carbon emissions: A comparison of farm shop and mass distribution approaches

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  • Coley, David
  • Howard, Mark
  • Winter, Michael
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    Abstract

    This paper provides a critical commentary on the conception of food miles followed by an empirical application of food miles to two contrasting food distribution systems based on carbon emissions accounting within these systems. The comparison is between the carbon emissions resultant from operating a large-scale vegetable box system and those from a supply system where the customer travels to a local farm shop. The study is based on fuel and energy use data collected from one of the UK's largest suppliers of organic produce. The findings suggest that if a customer drives a round-trip distance of more than 6.7km in order to purchase their organic vegetables, their carbon emissions are likely to be greater than the emissions from the system of cold storage, packing, transport to a regional hub and final transport to customer's doorstep used by large-scale vegetable box suppliers. Consequently some of the ideas behind localism in the food sector may need to be revisited.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VCB-4V75HP4-1/2/91015f915ef56048c2ed0bee635142ca
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (April)
    Pages: 150-155

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:34:y:2009:i:2:p:150-155

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

    Related research

    Keywords: Food miles Carbon emissions Food distribution Sustainable food system;

    References

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    1. Roberta Sonnino & Terry Marsden, 2006. "Beyond the divide: rethinking relationships between alternative and conventional food networks in Europe," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 181-199, April.
    2. Subak, Susan, 1999. "Global environmental costs of beef production," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 79-91, July.
    3. Rigby, D. & Caceres, D., 2001. "Organic farming and the sustainability of agricultural systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 21-40, April.
    4. Pretty, J.N. & Ball, A.S. & Lang, T. & Morison, J.I.L., 2005. "Farm costs and food miles: An assessment of the full cost of the UK weekly food basket," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 1-19, February.
    5. Carlsson-Kanyama, Annika & Ekstrom, Marianne Pipping & Shanahan, Helena, 2003. "Food and life cycle energy inputs: consequences of diet and ways to increase efficiency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2-3), pages 293-307, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Mundler, Patrick & Rumpus, Lucas, 2012. "The energy efficiency of local food systems: A comparison between different modes of distribution," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 609-615.
    2. Carrie Furman & Carla Roncoli & Donald Nelson & Gerrit Hoogenboom, 2014. "Growing food, growing a movement: climate adaptation and civic agriculture in the southeastern United States," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 69-82, March.
    3. Dingyang Zhou & Hirotaka Matsuda & Yuji Hara & Kazuhiko Takeuchi, 2012. "Potential and observed food flows in a Chinese city: a case study of Tianjin," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 481-492, December.
    4. Nicholson, Charles F. & Gómez, Miguel I. & Gao, Oliver H., 2011. "The costs of increased localization for a multiple-product food supply chain: Dairy in the United States," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 300-310, April.
    5. Martinez, Stephen W. & Hand, Michael S. & Da Pra, Michelle & Pollack, Susan L. & Ralston, Katherine L. & Smith, Travis A. & Vogel, Stephen J. & Clark, Shellye & Lohr, Luanne & Low, Sarah A. & Newman, , 2010. "Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues," Economic Research Report 96635, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
      • Martinez, Steve & Hand, Michael & Da Pra, Michelle & Pollack, Susan & Ralston, Katherine & Smith, Travis & Vogel, Stephen & Clarke, Shellye & Lohr, Luanne & Low, Sarah & Newman, Constance, 2010. "Local food systems: concepts, impacts, and issues," MPRA Paper 24313, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Velandia, Margarita M. & Davis, James A. & Lambert, Dayton M. & Clark, Christopher D. & Wilcox, Michael D., Jr & Wszelaki, Annette & Jensen, Kimberly L., 2012. "Factors Affecting Producer Awareness of State Programs Promoting Locally Grown Foods: The Case of Fruit and Vegetable Growers in Tennessee," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 43(2), July.
    7. Panzone, Luca A. & Wossink, Ada & Southerton, Dale, 2013. "The design of an environmental index of sustainable food consumption: A pilot study using supermarket data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 44-55.
    8. Kissinger, Meidad, 2012. "International trade related food miles – The case of Canada," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 171-178.
    9. Kemp, Katherine & Insch, Andrea & Holdsworth, David K. & Knight, John G., 2010. "Food miles: Do UK consumers actually care?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 504-513, December.
    10. Marletto, Gerardo, 2009. "Transalpine transport policies: towards a shared approach," MPRA Paper 26601, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2010.
    11. Bourlakis, Michael & Maglaras, George & Aktas, Emel & Gallear, David & Fotopoulos, Christos, 2014. "Firm size and sustainable performance in food supply chains: Insights from Greek SMEs," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 112-130.
    12. Steven Schnell, 2013. "Food miles, local eating, and community supported agriculture: putting local food in its place," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 615-628, December.
    13. Vázquez-Rowe, Ian & Villanueva-Rey, Pedro & Moreira, Mª Teresa & Feijoo, Gumersindo, 2013. "The role of consumer purchase and post-purchase decision-making in sustainable seafood consumption. A Spanish case study using carbon footprinting," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 94-102.
    14. Grebitus, Carola & Lusk, Jayson L. & Nayga, Rodolfo M., 2013. "Effect of distance of transportation on willingness to pay for food," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 67-75.

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