I am helping prepare a short publication to get consumers to think about the
consequences of local, national, and international food systems. We are
not advocating 100% local food systems, but we would like to raise consumer
awareness of the degree to which we depend on non-local food and of some of
the social and environmental costs associated with non-local foods.
We want to put together a list of thought-provoking facts, documented with
credible references. Does anyone have leads on where we could get the
1) How far does the average food item travel? (for a midwestern consumer,
figures as recent as possible) The average vegetable?
2) How much energy is used for food transportation, preservation,
packaging before it gets to the grocery store shelves?
3) How much irrigation water is used for summer (June - September)
vegetable production in California? Other major fruit and vegetable
exporting areas? versus in Iowa? (gallons used per ton produced for
particular vegetables such as lettuce or tomatoes would be ideal and would
allow for comparisons)
4) How is produce treated to preserve freshness during transport and
handling? Are any preservatives or pesticides applied to the packaging,
shipping containers, or produce?
5) Does anyone know of recent studies on the question of a local economic
multiplier effect (e.g., how much more does it stimulate the local economy
to buy goods produced locally than goods simply retailed locally?)
I would be very grateful for any information or leads you can give me, and
I also welcome your other thoughts on this topic.
2104 Agronomy Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
tel: (515) 294-1923
fax: (515) 294-9985
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