Thursday, January 9, 2014

Organic Food Miles: Does Going Organic Mean a Smaller Carbon Footprint?

Seve DeGrand, Environmental Studies Program

Is it possible that maintaining an organic diet increases one’s carbon footprint through food miles? In this analysis, food miles is defined as the distance traveled by the food from the grower to the market. This project consists of calculating food miles and proposing ways to reduce them. Shopping for organics can often increase the average miles traveled by the product. Scenario analysis is used to address scenarios regarding consumers shopping for only organics at different grocers and markets and comparing them to local consumers and conventional consumers. Using data collected in 2012’s Environmental Studies capstone work, updated charts and maps show the distance traveled by these growers to their various grocers and markets. This visual resource will enable an even broader understanding of food miles. In this way, an average shopper searching for conventional goods at a conventional grocer is compared to a strictly organic consumer. The project shows that farmer’s markets can serve as a way to offset the environmental costs of eating organic by reducing the overall average of food miles.

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