Food mile minefield

I’ve published a couple of items on this topic, including Food Miles And Sustainability and also more recently about food miles particularly concerning shoppers in the UK.

It can be a real minefield trying to cut back on food miles – food imported from overseas turns up in the most unlikely places.

For example, I was snacking on some tinned apricots the other day, patting myself on the back for opting for a relatively unprocessed snack for a change. Australia has a pretty substantial stone fruit industry and while fresh fruit is difficult to come by and keep out here in the middle of nowhere; I was confident my Aussie grown apricots didn’t come from too far away..

.. until I studied the label, which read

Packed in Australia (in bold)
Produce of South Africa (in smaller print)

Eeek! My apricots had travelled around 6,000 miles (approximately 10,000 kilometers) to get to me! They grow the darned things in my own state and it’s not as though it was a seasonal issue as these were canned. What was really irritating was the brand was the supermarket’s “select” brand – a supermarket that boasts about its support of Australian local farmers.

I then started going through all my supplies and really was astounded at how much wasn’t totally sourced and made here – beans, stews and pastas from New Zealand, Tuna from Thailand, chili from the USA, many items made from “local and imported ingredients”. One of the few things that was totally made in Australia was Niki the Wonder Dog’s food! Sigh, even my dog is greener than me – I’ve really slacked off on this aspect of my life.

The amount of stuff from New Zealand made me wonder what would happen if NZ cut trade ties with Australia. Maybe it’s all part of an Kiwi invasion plan – control the food and you control the people ;).

Seriously though, if you’re concerned about food miles, never take for granted that a local food brand or something that’s widely grown or harvested in your own country will actually be in what you buy. You may need to pay a little more for locally produced food, even if it’s canned. I went shopping today and took another crack at buying tinned fruit – the locally grown stuff was around 20c more a tin.


Canned food and the environment