The concept of 'food miles' presents an argument to buy goods which have travelled the shortest distance from farm to table, and to discriminate against long-haul transportation, especially air-freighted goods. The long-distance transport of food is associated with additional emissions due to increased transportation coupled with greater packaging, as well as negative impacts on local rural communities, and a disconnection between the public and food and farming. 'Food miles' encapsulates (and is at the vanguard) of the climate change debate. In light of growing international concern over the speed and scale of climate change, the concept of food miles has captured public attention and apparently is changing some consumer's behaviour, although only around one-third of shoppers know of the concept.
This paper summarises four commissioned studies on weighing environmental and social impacts of fresh produce exports from sub-Saharan Africa to the UK:
- Sub-Saharan African horticultural exports to the UK and climate change: a literature review by Zoë Lelah Wangler (Fresh Insights 2)
- Virtual water: a case study of green beans and flowers exported to the UK from Africa by Stuart Orr and Ashok Chapagain (Fresh Insights 3)
- A life cycle analysis of UK supermaket imported green beans from Kenya by Andrew Jones (Fresh Insights 4)
- Ecological space and a low-carbon future: crafting space for equitable economic development in Africa by James MacGregor (Fresh Insights 8).
For a shorter 2-page summary see Fresh Perspectives Issue 1. \"Fair miles\"? The concept of \"food miles\" through a sustainable development lens.
International Institute for Environment and Development/ Natural Resources Institute, London, UK, 18 pp.