Food Miles in Question

11 Mar 2008

The British Government today pushed retailers not to choose their producers based on low ‘food miles’ – coined to raise awareness of the environmental impact of food transportation – and announced that they will actively encourage more produce to be flown in from Africa, where around 100 million farmers currently depend on British exports.

Minister Gareth Thomas, responsible for overseas development, announced that up to £2 million in matched funding would be offered to supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose to assist them to find new African suppliers. Meanwhile, environmentalists and local food advocates are maintaining their campaign for consumers to give up their taste for exotic, out-of-season vegetables and support local food production and reduced transport distances.

Professor Tim Lang of City University, the academic who coined the term ‘food miles’, proposed that the Government ask themselves, ‘Why is Africa feeding the already overfed and why is Britain not feeding itself ? We are using Africa as a neo-colonial food system’, he stated.

Minister Thomas argues that the goverment has, ‘never agreed with those who say we should punish African farmers because they don’t like the emissions. If you take green beans, studies have shown there are fewer emissions from growing green beans in Africa than producing them in the European Union.’

Bess Mucke

Evening Standard

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