Organic food is big business these days. Organic fruit and vegetables are hot items because everyone wants to feel like they are eating healthier. What hasn't been studied until now is the impact of organic business on the environment, namely in greenhouse gas emissions from transport.
A new study, conducted by a team of student researchers in the Department of Rural Economy at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, showed that the greenhouse gas emitted when the produce is transported from great distances mitigates the environmental benefits of growing the food organically.
“If you’re buying ‘green’, you should consider the distance the food travels. If it’s travelling further, then some of the benefits of organic crops are cancelled out by extra environmental costs,” said researcher Vicki Burtt.
Burtt and her fellow researchers compared the cost of ‘food miles’ between organic and conventionally grown produce, and found that there was little difference in the cost to the environment.
Food miles are defined as the distance that food travels from the field to the grocery store. The study found that the environmental cost of greenhouse gas (CO2) emitted to transport 20 tonnes of organically grown produce was comparable to that of bringing the same amount of conventional fruit and vegetables to market.
For the study, the team collected retail price data from six grocery stores and interviewed suppliers about their shipping methods. They created comparable food baskets of both organic and conventionally-grown fruit and vegetables being transported to Edmonton stores by truck, train or ship, and found that most travels by truck. Since 1970 truck shipping has increased, replacing more energy-efficient rail and water transport.
The researchers calculated that the annual environmental costs for a city the size of Edmonton were $135,000 to $183,000 (5,492-7,426 tons CO2) for conventional produce and $156,000 to $175,000 (6,348-7,124 tons CO2) for organic produce. Many of the organic products are traveling further than the conventional food. Two items in particular, mangoes and green peppers, were shipped much further than their conventional counterparts (4,217 and 1,476 kilometers, respectively). The mangoes were shipped from Ecuador and Peru as opposed to Mexico, and the peppers came from Mexico as opposed to Canada or the United States.
To help reduce greenhouse gases, Burtt recommends that shoppers switch to buying locally produced food at grocery stores or farmers’ markets when possible, and that any future government policy on the environment should consider the reduction of CO2 emissions associated with food transport.
The study also found that a large gap between total costs and the much higher price paid in the store for organic produce indicates that retailers could cover the environmental costs without further passing those costs on to the consumer.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- A Dimuon Particle At 30 GeV In ALEPH ??
- President Obama, Why Humans On Mars Right Now Are Bad For Science
- A Racist On The Jews: Let The Donald Trump!
- DDoS war: How zombie fridges bit the internet in the a$$ today.
- Perception: The Forgotten Psychology of Holographic Universe Simulations 1/2
- Metaphors in Quantum Mechanics
- Microbiome: 'Emerging Medical Science' Is The New Term For Chasing A Fad
- "Thanks Dr. Durig, for this article. I am very much interested in the topic of Self-awareness and..."
- "The only people who are in for a shock are the people who believe in it, when nothing happens...."
- "Oh, okay, you need to understand a bit about how solar systems form. It starts with a condensing..."
- "Are we gonna be in for a shock with this nibiru planet mr walker also if you had the chance to..."
- "The thing that gets me mr walker is planets can collide so why all of a sudden is this now impossible..."
- The Math of Hunting and Fishing: When to Work Together
- Placebo: Bubbles Of Nothing Are Still Not Something
- People Who Take Drugs May Be Likelier to Commit Suicide
- Improved 'Screen Time' Guidelines Could Make Parents & Kids Happier
- Dr. Jamie Wells Named One Of America's Top Pediatricians
- Why Did EPA Delay Its Glyphosate Safety Report?