Food miles is a term we have become familiar with, but did you know that the total distance of 20 fresh food items in the supermarket have travelled 100,943 miles (just under half the distance to the moon) to get there? 45% of supermarket food is imported from abroad, often by plane. This is partly due to the fact that we have lost track of what fresh food is in season when.
In addition, the further our food travels, the more nutrients it has lost and the more chemicals are required to extend its shelf life. The more it is transported, the more packaging it needs, generating not only more waste but also greater cost to the consumer. Food which is classified as ‘local’ by many large retailers simply means it has been grown in the UK. Even this local food clocks up an impressive number of miles due to our centralised packaging, processing and re-distribution systems. Basically the best answer is to use local shops to buy local produce. Greengrocers, butchers, bakers, farmers markets, farm shops and box schemes, all support the local economy and reduce the number of food miles you will be creating.
There are currently 14 farmers markets in Cheshire. For more information on local food sources visit www.farmersmarkets.net or www.bigbarn.co.uk
An even better option is to grow your own. Fruit and vegetables do not need large amounts of space and can be grown in containers such as hanging baskets or pots. If you have no garden, why not consider an allotment? Visit www.nsalg.org.uk or call 01536 266576 for a list of local plots.