Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


April 22, 2006

Food Cost in Gallons Of Gas

Category: Cool Sites,Economics,Organic & Local Food,Transportation – Tom Harrison – 5:43 pm

Sierra Club’s magazine, Sierra published a startling article called “Miles to Go Before You Eat” which measures the cost in fuel for transporting food.

I think the science behind their methodology is a little flawed, but the point is right on. You can choose to believe the numbers, but for example, they claim that a pineapple sent from Hawaii to Des Moines, Iowa (just as a reference point) would use 2.8 gallons of gasoline; one sent from Costa Rica would only use 0.3 gallons. The difference is that the Hawaiian pineapple is sent by air, and the one from Costa Rica by ship. So the numbers seem extreme — at today’s gasoline prices, a pineapple from Hawaii would cost at least $7, just for transportation. But the idea is right, and makes the point well that a potato is not just a potato: it is a potato that has, most likely, been shipped from Idaho.

Locally grown food, then is yet another critical element of the interrelated issues of energy, environment and economy. Would it be better to eat an organic apple in Boston that was grown in California, or a conventional apple grown here?

I could say more, but for now, let’s just say that it’s complicated.

1 Comment

  1. […] change than packaging. True and very, very important; I have been writing about the energy cost of food for a while.But is this a relevant point? It strikes me a little like asking the question […]

    Pingback by Relative Energy Cost of Food vs. Food Bags | Five Percent: Conserve Energy — December 4, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

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