Thoughts on Green Living

Category: Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Food for thought: How appetite is consumed in food industry

From a diesel fuel tractors that collect a crops, to a refrigerated trucks that ride products cross-country, to a labor-saving record found in a home such as toasters and self-cleaning ovens, a U.S. food complement is about as appetite emasculate as it gets. And it’s usually removing worse.

A tumble 2010 news by a Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, ERS, called “Fuel for Food: Energy Use in a U.S. Food System,” found that while appetite output per capita fell by 1 percent between 2002 and 2007, food-related appetite use grew scarcely 8 percent, as a food courtesy relied on some-more energy-intensive technologies to furnish some-more food for some-more people.

Between 1997 and 2002, in fact, over 80 percent of a boost in annual U.S. appetite output was food related.

And estimates for 2007 advise a U.S. food complement accounted for scarcely 16 percent of a nation’s sum appetite budget, adult from 14.4 percent in 2002, according to a report, that totalled both a approach appetite used to appetite machines and appliances (like trucks and x-ray ovens) as good as a “embodied” appetite used to manufacture, store and discharge food products.

“This is what they call a hoary fuel party,” says Kamyar Enshayan, executive of a Center for Energy Environmental Education during a University of Northern Iowa. “We’ve combined a food complement that relies heavily on hoary energy, and it’s turn so globalized that there are literally grapes from South Africa in a grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa. It’s a long-distance shipping economy, that creates all of us exposed to disruptions in a supply sequence and other variable emergencies.”

That’s quite troublesome, he notes, when so many of a U.S. quite a Midwest has such intensity for primary production.

“We have a best soils and a good meridian and yet, many of what we eat is imported,” says Enshayan. “You have to step behind and say, ‘Wait, since is a segment like Iowa not feeding itself?”

The environmental effect of relying so heavily on a inhabitant and general network of suppliers is even greater, he notes.

“It dulls a imagination and prevents us from profitable courtesy to what sustains us,” says Enshayan. “The detriment of H2O and dirt peculiarity is right in front of us, yet given a food doesn’t come from it, since worry?”


And then, of course, there’s a impact on a climate.

“The prolongation and placement of food has prolonged been famous to be a vital source of immature residence gas and other environmental emissions, and, for many reasons, it is seen by many environmental advocates as one of a vital ways endangered consumers can revoke their CO footprints,” writes Christopher Weber, an environmental engineering highbrow during Carnegie Mellon University, in a 2008 paper called “Food-Miles and a Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in a Unites States” that he co-authored with H. Scott Mathews.

According to a report, a normal household’s meridian impact associated to food is estimated to be 8.1 t CO2/yr, or tonnes of CO2 homogeneous a year, a common magnitude for last how many tellurian warming a form of hothouse gas might cause.

To put that figure into perspective, pushing a automobile that gets 25 miles per gallon roughly 12,000 miles produces 4.4 t CO2/yr.

Why So High

One of a reasons appetite use in a food complement is flourishing so fast is that there are some-more of us to feed.

The U.S. race grew by some-more than 9.7 percent to 308.7 million in 2010, according to a Census Bureau.

A second law-breaker is aloft food output for a volume of food marketed to U.S. consumers, that increasing food complement appetite use in America by 25 percent, a USDA news notes.

By far, though, a use of energy-intensive technologies as a surrogate for primer labor is a biggest contributor.

An example: High tech, energy-intensive hen houses and a flourishing use of liquid, solidified and dusty egg products (instead of whole eggs) increasing appetite use per egg by 40 percent between 1997 to 2002, a USDA news found.

The same is loyal in kitchens opposite a country.

In fact, with a gusto for labor saving technologies, (not to discuss a second fridge in a basement) households are a biggest appetite users in a food sequence 29 percent of sum food complement appetite use, according to a USDA.

ERS estimates that food associated home appetite use increasing by 3.9 percent per dish between 1997 and 2002.

“Consumers are relying on blenders and food processors instead of knives and chipping blocks, and self cleaning ovens have transposed EASY-OFF and bend grease,” a news states. “Modern appliances, while infrequently some-more appetite efficient, still need appetite to make and operate.”

Buying Local?

There’s small debate, then, that appetite use in a tellurian food complement is unsustainable.

But there’s rebate agreement over how best to remove efficiencies.

Environmentalists insist a answer is to “buy local,” given fewer ride miles interpret into fuel assets and fewer emissions.

But that’s not a finish solution.

In a 2001 investigate published by a Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture during Iowa State University, a “conventional” food travel system, that uses inhabitant suppliers to batch grocery stores with fruits and vegetables is, indeed, a many appetite intensive.

But a internal complement touted by conservationists, in that farmers marketplace directly to consumers by village upheld cultivation enterprises like farmers markets, was also found to be rebate fit than regulating a informal network of suppliers.

“From a quite travel perspective, a informal complement was by distant a many efficient,” says Pirog, associate executive of a Leopold Center, who maintains a commentary are equally current today. “We found that a informal food complement was anywhere from 8 to 17 times some-more fuel fit than a inhabitant system, yet also 4 times some-more fit than a internal system.”

The appetite impact of food production, of course, also depends on geography.

While some studies have shown that vegetables grown locally need dual to 3 times rebate appetite than their alien counterparts, a 2008 investigate during Cornell University surprisingly found that it compulsory 4 to 6 times some-more appetite to furnish perishable crops year-round in greenhouses in upstate New York than to lorry them in from California.

That’s partly since of a increasing hoary fuels compulsory to feverishness a greenhouses, yet also since a incomparable mega-farms in a West advantage from economies of scale, or a cost and appetite advantages of producing vast volumes.

“Accounting for appetite use in cultivation is really complex,” says Miguel Gomez, an partner highbrow during Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics. “We’ve finished studies that demeanour during these outrageous farms with irrigation and transportation, and compared them with some-more localized food supply chains, and in terms of appetite use it is not transparent that one is some-more efficient.”

While new feverishness influence technologies that use solar appetite and compost to comfortable greenhouses might eventually give internal farms a appetite top hand, a some-more evident resolution (from an environmental perspective) to reduce appetite output might be to change a approach we eat.

In his food-miles paper, Weber records that red beef is about 150 percent some-more complete on immature residence gas emissions than duck or fish.

“Thus, we advise that dietary change can be a some-more effective means of obscure an normal household’s food-related meridian footprint than ‘buying local,’” he writes. “Shifting rebate than one day per week’s value of calories from red beef and dairy products to chicken, fish eggs or a vegetable-based diet achieves some-more GHG rebate than shopping all locally-sourced food.”

Adds Pirog: “We are still regulating approach too many energy and hoary fuels to furnish and yield a food, yet there is many room for improvement. There are all sorts of healthy systems being complicated [for plantation production] and some of a incomparable food companies are starting to see a value of some-more informal multi-state buying systems rather than only relying on removing all from China.”


Copyright 2011 CNBC.com.