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local food in numbers

  3 min

FACTS & FIGURES

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The extent to which food is ‘local’, is often expressed in ‘food mileage’ – local by proximity. It is one piece of the complex puzzle of a sustainable food system. Many scientists conclude eating less meat is the most effective way of reducing our carbon footprint. These graphs may lead to a more nuanced understanding of ‘local food’. Local does not necessarily mean better. Yet it still contributes a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions, a contribution that is often not necessary.

Jurgen Elenbaas  Wouter Noordijk

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local food

in numbers

lijn.svg (copy3) lijn.svg (copy4) 3.burger.svg (copy3) cirkel2.svg (copy2)

Source: Julie E. Kurtz, et al., ‘Mapping U.S. Food System Localization potential: the impact of diet on foodsheds’, in: Environmental science & Technology 54-19 (2020).

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The average amount food miles that would be needed to feed all metropolitan areas in the USA, in a hypothetical closed food system that prioritizes local food. Subdivided by foods of different type of land use and diet.

Average US diet 299 miles

cultivated cropland

80% omnivorous: 251 miles

20% omnivorous: 222 miles

Average US diet: 269 miles

Perennial cropland

80% omnivorous: 199 miles

20% omnivirous diet: 68 miles

Average US diet: 485 miles

Grazing land

80% omnivorous: 340 miles

20% omnivorous: 73 miles

lijn.svg (copy5) lijn.svg (copy6) 3.burger.svg (copy2) cirkel2.svg (copy3)

Average US diet: 35%

cultivated cropland

80% omnivorous: 47%

20% omnivorous: 52%

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Percentage of US metropolitan areas that could meet its need derived from three different lands within 155 miles, divided by diet:

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Average US diet: 39%

Perennial cropland

80% omnivorous: 49%

20% omnivorous diet: 90%

Average US diet: 26%

Grazing land

80% omnivorous diet: 36%

20% omnivorous diet: 88%

lijn.svg (copy2) lijn.svg (copy2) 3.burger.svg 3.burger.svg (copy) cirkel2.svg (copy3)

Source: CDA, ‘Where does your big mac come from’ (2018). 

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A Big Mac in London represents on average 8050 miles.

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Source: Schneider-Green, E., ‘Barn to burn: how many miles do the ingredients in your burger travel?’, Atlanta magazine (2014).

A journalist found that hamburgers in different fast food joints in Atlanta  could represent 1109 miles (most local burger) or 4421 miles (least local burger).


Source: The Farm on Adderley).

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A hamburger at the Farm on Adderley (restaurant NYC) represents approximately 375 food miles.

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Source: Weber, C. L. and Matthews, H. S.. ‘Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States’, in: Environmental Science & Technology (2008).

Average food product for American households travels 4200 miles through its production chain. In 2008 transportation accounted for 5% of all food emissions by Ame can households, still  contributing in total 46 trillion CO2 equivalent.

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2.america.svg (copy) cirkel2.svg (copy2)

Source: Sandström, V. et al. ‘The role of trade in the greenhouse gas footprints of EU diets’, Global Food Security, 19 (2018), 48-55.

In 2018 European Union: 6% of CO2 equivalents in the food web is caused by transportation, contributing 27 trillion kg CO2 equivalent in total.

2.america.svg (copy1) cirkel2.svg (copy3) cirkel2.svg (copy3)

Source: Kissinger, M., ‘International trade related food miles - The case of Canada’, in; Food Policy 37 (2012), 171-178. Carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e means the number of metric tons of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential as one metric ton of another greenhouse gas, and is calculated using Equation A-1 in 40 CFR Part 98.

In 2012 Canada: transportation caused 3,3 trillion kg CO2 equivalent in total. 25% was fruit and vegetables. Food traveled 38 trillion miles in total.

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Source: Poore, J. and Nemecek, T., ‘Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers; in: Science, 360 (2018), 987-992

CO2 equivalent caused by transportation. Percentage of total emissions of life cycle:

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Beef herds

0,5%

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7,1%

Wheat and rye (Bread)

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30%

Potatoes

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4,7%

Cheese

1.beef.svg (copy3)

37,5%

Bananas

Source: Tom Ysewijn,’ Brengen minder voedselkilometers ons dichter bij duurzame consumptie?’, Mondiaal Nieuws (2019).

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Air transport, shorter than
2230 miles: 1.762

Air transport, longer than
2230 miles: 0.733

3.burger.svg (copy3)
cirkel2.svg (copy2)

Road (rigid, for example lorry’s): 0.303
Road (articulated): 0.107

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Rail: 0.037

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Water (container): 0.019
Water (bulk): 0.004

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The mode of transportation heavily impacts the emissions of food miles. Emissions per type of transportation, in kg CO2 equivalent per one tonne of product, moved over 1 km (0,6 miles).

1.svg (copy1)
foto.jpg
Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

  3 min

local food

in numbers

The extent to which food is ‘local’, is often expressed in ‘food mileage’ – local by proximity. It is one piece of the complex puzzle of a sustainable food system. Many scientists conclude eating less meat is the most effective way of reducing our carbon footprint. These graphs may lead to a more nuanced understanding of ‘local food’. Local does not necessarily mean better. Yet it still contributes a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions, a contribution that is often not necessary.

Jurgen Elenbaas  Wouter Noordijk

cirkel2.svg cirkel2.svg (copy)

Source: Poore, J. and Nemecek, T., ‘Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers; in: Science, 360 (2018), 987-992

1.svg

CO2 equivalent caused by transportation. Percentage of total emissions of life cycle:

1.beef.svg

Beef herds

0,5%

1.beef.svg (copy)

7,1%

Wheat and rye (Bread)

1.beef.svg (copy1)

30%

Potatoes

1.beef.svg (copy2)

4,7%

Cheese

1.beef.svg (copy3)

37,5%

Bananas

2.america.svg cirkel2.svg (copy1)

Source: Weber, C. L. and Matthews, H. S.. ‘Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States’, in: Environmental Science & Technology (2008).

1.svg (copy)

Average food product for American households travels 4200 miles through its production chain. In 2008 transportation accounted for 5% of all food emissions by Ame can households, still  contributing in total 46 trillion CO2 equivalent.

2.america.svg (copy) cirkel2.svg (copy2)

Source: Sandström, V. et al. ‘The role of trade in the greenhouse gas footprints of EU diets’, Global Food Security, 19 (2018), 48-55.

In 2018 European Union: 6% of CO2 equivalents in the food web is caused by transportation, contributing 27 trillion kg CO2 equivalent in total.

2.america.svg (copy1) cirkel2.svg (copy3)

Source: Kissinger, M., ‘International trade related food miles - The case of Canada’, in; Food Policy 37 (2012), 171-178. Carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e means the number of metric tons of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential as one metric ton of another greenhouse gas, and is calculated using Equation A-1 in 40 CFR Part 98.

In 2012 Canada: transportation caused 3,3 trillion kg CO2 equivalent in total. 25% was fruit and vegetables. Food traveled 38 trillion miles in total.

3.burger.svg 3.burger.svg (copy)

Source: CDA, ‘Where does your big mac come from’ (2018). 

cirkel2.svg (copy)
1.svg (copy)

A Big Mac in London represents on average 8050 miles.

cirkel2.svg (copy1)

Source: Schneider-Green, E., ‘Barn to burn: how many miles do the ingredients in your burger travel?’, Atlanta magazine (2014).

A journalist found that hamburgers in different fast food joints in Atlanta  could represent 1109 miles (most local burger) or 4421 miles (least local burger).


A hamburger at the Farm on Adderley (restaurant NYC) represents approximately 375 food miles.

Source: The Farm on Adderley).

3.burger.svg (copy1)
3.burger.svg (copy3) cirkel2.svg (copy2)
cirkel2.svg (copy1)
1.svg (copy1)

The average amount food miles that would be needed to feed all metropolitan areas in the USA, in a hypothetical closed food system that prioritizes local food. Subdivided by foods of different type of land use and diet.

Average US diet 299 miles

cultivated cropland

80% omnivorous: 251 miles

20% omnivorous: 222 miles

Average US diet: 269 miles

Perennial cropland

80% omnivorous: 199 miles

20% omnivirous diet: 68 miles

Average US diet: 485 miles

Grazing land

80% omnivorous: 340 miles

20% omnivorous: 73 miles

3.burger.svg (copy2) cirkel2.svg (copy3)

Average US diet: 35%

cultivated cropland

80% omnivorous: 47%

20% omnivorous: 52%

cirkel2.svg (copy2)
1.svg (copy2)

Percentage of US metropolitan areas that could meet its need derived from three different lands within 155 miles, divided by diet:

Average US diet: 39%

Perennial cropland

80% omnivorous: 49%

20% omnivorous diet: 90%

Average US diet: 26%

Grazing land

80% omnivorous diet: 36%

20% omnivorous diet: 88%

Source: Julie E. Kurtz, et al., ‘Mapping U.S. Food System Localization potential: the impact of diet on foodsheds’, in: Environmental science & Technology 54-19 (2020).

Source: Tom Ysewijn,’ Brengen minder voedselkilometers ons dichter bij duurzame consumptie?’, Mondiaal Nieuws (2019).

1.svg (copy1)

The mode of transportation heavily impacts the emissions of food miles. Emissions per type of transportation, in kg CO2 equivalent per one tonne of product, moved over 1 km (0,6 miles).

cirkel2.svg (copy1)

Air transport, shorter than
2230 miles: 1.762

Air transport, longer than
2230 miles: 0.733

3.burger.svg (copy3)
cirkel2.svg (copy2)

Road (rigid, for example lorry’s): 0.303
Road (articulated): 0.107

3.burger.svg (copy4)

Rail: 0.037

3.burger.svg (copy5)

Water (container): 0.019
Water (bulk): 0.004

3.burger.svg (copy6)

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