Even in the colder months, grocery store produce aisles are a fabulous array of colors, if anything happens outside.
This year-round variety has a real benefit on the planet, with a recent study claiming that "food miles" are responsible for 19% of all food emissions three times more than previously estimated.
Even worse, with only 12.5% of the world''s population, high-income nations contribute 46 percent of the world''s food-mile emissions.
"Our study predicts that global food systems, due to transport, production, and land use changes, contribute about 30% of total human-produced greenhouse gas emissions. So, food transport at around six percent is a substantial proportion of global warming emissions," says the researcher. Environmental modeling at the University of Sydney.
"Food transportation emissions equal to about half of direct emissions from road automobiles."
It''s difficult to imagine the whole food chain around the world, and most studies in the past have either examined specific countries, or specific foods (for example tomato ketchup or beef), but this isn''t able to reach out to an exact picture of what''s happening.
"While carbon emissions associated with food production are well documented," the team writes in their new paper, "the global trade of food, which accounts for the whole food supply chain," has not been comprehensively quantified.
Instead, researchers used a foodLab framework to invest in 74 countries, 37 economic sectors, such as livestock, coal, and fruit and veg, as well as four transportation methods to develop a model that encompasses the entire global supply-chain network.
Food transport alone contributes three giga tonnes of carbon emissions annually, equivalent to 19 percent of all food-related emissions, including land use.
Researchers examined whether or not everyone ate locally. Food miles emissions were reduced by 0.27 gigatonnes (0.24 gigatonnes for high-income countries alone!) and food production emissions by 0.11 gigatonnes.
The idea of eating entirely locally is unacceptable, since some places aren''t capable of producing their own foods, but it gives us a clear indication of where we can go from here.
"We tend to interpret information around us in simplistic terms, like''meat is bad and vegetables are good,'' according to the University of Sydney nutritional ecologist.
"Our research demonstrates that eating locally is ideal, especially in affluent countries, outperform a plant-based diet."
Consumers are at the highest risk of making widespread change in this case, according to researchers. So, for those of us in high-income countries, individualizing the local or seasonal option is one of the best ways forward.
This is especially important for fruits and vegetables, as they must be refrigerated to be shipped anywhere in the world, resulting in even greater emissions.
To assist with local selections, sometimes grocery stores will include a country-of-origin label. It''s even better if you know that the crop was grown in your state or area of the country.
A third issue is that many individuals are now accustomed to being able to purchase avocados, asparagus, berries, and citrus at any time of the year.
"One example is the habit of consumers in affluent countries to demand unseasonal foods year-round, which must be shipped from another country," Raubenheime said.
"Eating local seasonal alternatives, as we have covered the majority of our species'' history, will help provide a healthy future."
In certain seasons, you may be a little confused about what fruits and vegetables are available, so check out this link if you''re in the United States and want a refresher. There are also options, such as choosing frozen or canned vegetables when not in season, because these can be stored when they are most plentiful.
Nature Food has been a source of the research.