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10 ways to reduce food miles

What on earth are food miles?

They are the distance that your food travels from the grower to your plate, including travel to and from processor and retailer.

Why should I want to reduce them?

Because transporting your food long distances involves lorries and aeroplanes. And lorries and aeroplanes use lots of fuel and emit tons of CO2 emissions, contributing to global warming. But that’s just the starting point. Other reasons why we should be reducing food miles wherever possible include wanting to eat fresher food, in season; supporting local and regional producers and the economy; and preventing 3rd world countries from cutting down forests and losing their own food, because big companies see food as a commodity, rather as a way to feed the people of that country.

How to reduce food miles:

1. Buy food that is grown or produced locally. When shopping in supermarkets, check the labels. If the product you’re buying isn’t grown locally, look at the options and buy the product that comes from the nearest source, i.e. if you live in the UK, choose French rather than South African apricots. Carry a small world map in your handbag or pocket for these occasions.

2. Eat what’s in season. It won’t have travelled as far as out-of-season fruit and vegetables. To find out what’s in season, have a look at the Eat The Seasons website.

3. Visit your local Farmers’ Market. Most towns have one, and they are a great source of truly local produce, not to mention a fun outing. Click here to find your local Farmers’ Market.

4. Find your local farm shops, producers and pick-your-own farms at Big Barn.

5. Get a veg box delivered to your door. Big Barn can help you find your local supplier.

6. Grow your own. Get an allotment, or start a veggie patch in your back garden. If you have leftover seeds, consider swapping with friends or neighbours.

7. Support your local greengrocer, butcher and fishmonger, and ask them to stock more local produce.

8. Visit your local Country Market (used to be WI Market) for really local produce.

9. Some rare breeds farm parks and city farms offer their local, non-intensively reared meat for sale. If you have one near you, ask them.

10. Walk, cycle or take the bus to your local shops. This way you won’t add to the food miles already accrued.