The Mileage on Your Meals


Pull a recipe book down from the shelf. Open a page at random. Jot down the ingredients, and head to the biggest supermarket in the area. Unless it’s Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to acquire every single item on your list. It’s an astonishing freedom that is often taken for granted. We’ve never had it so good, surely.

Except”¦.in some ways, it’s a sleight of hand – the kind that so often goes with the word "convenience".

Shipping food from state to state, country to country and even between continents seems an odd way to feed the world. It’s also a terrific way to pump even more CO2 into the atmosphere, thanks to all those vans, lorries and planes whizzing around. The popular buzzword is "Food Miles" – how far the ingredients in your meal have to travel to reach your plate. It’s generally agreed that Food Miles are an inexact indicator of environmentally-unfriendly practices, but they’re still damning, and they certainly give an idea of where food distribution is inefficient, or indeed completely nuts.

Top chefs carefully source local suppliers, because they know local food usually tastes far better, and that Food Miles wear ingredients out. Chefs also shop more seasonally than the average modern family – and the meals they prepare are often specific to the time of year.

Bored with your diet? Go seasonal. Here’s a primer.

It’s a happy state of affairs that taking the eco-friendly option with food also means you enjoy it much more, hone your gastronomic skills and explore your community as never before. It’s also simply bizarre that some people regard “shop locally” and “shop seasonally” as dusty and unfashionable concepts. Go figure. 

Image: Tracy O

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.