The food we eat accounts for almost a quarter of our personal carbon footprint so it’s an area where we, acting as individuals but even better as a community, can make a big difference.
Our campaign this month focuses on air freight of vegetables.
Air freight is just one element of making good food choices and in future months we will be focusing on other aspects of food choices including those beyond carbon emissions.
Tesco and other supermarkets seem insensitive to the heavy environmental cost of flying vegetables around the world when good local alternatives are available – see this Daily Mail article We have written to Tesco , Booths and M&S to ask them why they do this but they have not replied.
For the 4 weeks of November we have asked our members to report on the airfreighted vegetables being sold in Tesco, Booths, M&S and Co-Op and what good British/ European alternatives are available. Below is the report for Week 1.
Week 3 beginning 16th November
We have had the week three reports from our Tesco and Booths monitors. There has been little change in M&S and the CoOp.
M&S : There were at least 14 different vegetables that had been flown to the UK. This included 5 from Kenya, 3 from Peru, 2 from Guatemala …etc.
Tenderstem Broccoli was available from Kenya and Lincolnshire. For more detail see M&S Week1
CO-OP: Bolton Bridge Rd. We now have a report for week 4 beginning 22nd November . 10 vegetables have been air-freighted from Peru, Kenya and other parts of the world. For more details see Co-Op Week 4
Booths: 14 vegetables were air-freighted including 3 from Kenya and 3 from Peru. Also noted were Roses flown in from Kenya.
A similar picture comes from our survey in week 3 see Booths Week3
Tesco: Here are 6 vegetables that were flown to Ilkley from distant fields with their price per kilogram. Compare the price with local alternatives. Now with an update from Week 3, see Tesco Week3 Update
We have a week 4 update:-
No change in air-freighted veg from my details of the last 2 weeks. The only different thing I noticed this week is that as well as loose Gala apples they have pre-packs of 6 small UK apples for 79p (Redmere Farms – unfortunately comes in plastic but at least they are selling imperfect apples rather than wasting them!). And bizarrely, leeks in plastic were 1.64/kg compared to £1.70/kg for loose leeks?!
Sadly it won’t say on the label – we need to demand this – so you have to make your own judgement. If the fruit or vegetables have come from outside Europe ask yourself whether they are robust and thick skinned enough to go on a boat or whether they will have had to be flown. Examples by boat:- Apples, oranges, bananas, pineapples, melons, avocados, mangoes
Examples by plane:- Any vegetables from Kenya or Latin America such as mangetout, tender stem broccoli, green beans, asparagus, Californian grapes and berries, baby sweetcorn from India
For answers to other common questions about food choices see our Food FAQs