Local food, food miles and carbon emissions: A comparison of farm shop and mass distribution approaches
This paper provides a critical commentary on the conception of food miles followed by an empirical application of food miles to two contrasting food distribution systems based on carbon emissions accounting within these systems. The comparison is between the carbon emissions resultant from operating a large-scale vegetable box system and those from a supply system where the customer travels to a local farm shop. The study is based on fuel and energy use data collected from one of the UK’s largest suppliers of organic produce. The findings suggest that if a customer drives a round-trip distance of more than 6.7 km in order to purchase their organic vegetables, their carbon emissions are likely to be greater than the emissions from the system of cold storage, packing, transport to a regional hub and final transport to customer’s doorstep used by large-scale vegetable box suppliers. Consequently some of the ideas behind localism in the food sector may need to be revisited.