Organic Benefit Is Offset: Food Miles Study

A new study examining the concept of food miles concluded that the environmental benefits found in growing organic produce was reversed by longer-distance transportation requirements.

EDMONTON, Alberta — A new study examining the concept of food miles concluded that the environmental benefits found in growing organic produce was reversed by longer-distance transportation requirements. The research, conducted by the University of Alberta, found that the annual environmental cost for a city the size of Edmonton for transporting organic produce ranged from $156,000 to $175,000 (Canadian), discharging up to 7,000 tons of carbon dioxide, whereas conventional produce came in at $135,000 to $183,000, and discharged up to 7,500 tons of carbon dioxide. The nearly identical margins indicate there is virtually no benefit to sourcing organic produce as a way of reducing food miles, or the environmental cost of transporting food to points of purchase. Most of the items in the study were transported into the region by fossil-fuel-burning trucks. The study’s authors had analyzed data on organic produce items collected from six Canadian supermarkets, and conducted interviews with the suppliers of those products.

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