Magazine article The Spectator

Globophobia

Magazine article The Spectator

Globophobia

Article excerpt

A loftily named environmental pressure group called the Food Commission has been upset by the sale of bottled water from Fiji in Waitrose supermarkets. The water, it complains, has clocked up 10,000 'food miles' before it reaches Western consumers. 'Transporting water halfway across the world is surely the most ludicrous use of fossil fuels when water is plentiful in the UK,' it complains. It is also concerned that we are wasting fossil fuels by importing prawns from Indonesia (7,000 food miles) and carrots from South Africa (5,900 food miles).

Counting the number of miles travelled by a product is a bizarre and crude way of trying to assess the environmental damage done by an industry. Most food is transported around the world on container ships which are extremely energy-efficient: it isn't necessarily the case that a tub of butter transported 25 miles in a gas-guzzling Land-Rover to a farmers' market has consumed less fossil fuel in its journey than a similar item transported hundreds of miles by sea. …

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