Bastrop Cattle Company

  (Bastrop, Texas)
Bastrop Cattle Company
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Carbon footprint production and transportation measurements

Yesterday I wrote about hearing Mark Bitman speak on NPR and how he was encouraging people to change their diets to help the environment.  After writing, I went out on the web and did some more searching -- especially in regard to my statement that it seems that everybody's carbon footprint would be decreased if they bought local.

OK, so there is a study out by Carnagie-Mellon that has actually tried to measure food's carbon footprint.  They have figured out that 85% of the carbon footprint is made up of how the food is produced or raised.  WOW!

They then figure that transporation of the food only accounts for 11% and the transportation between seller and buyer is a mere 4%.

Now, I didn't see the report -- I would like to -- I just read what one person was quoting from another person who did see the report. 

What was interesting (and this is why we should all see the information as close to the source as possible!), the guy who was writing the article - went on to state that since transporation is such a small part of the footprint it could be argued that sunny, poor countries may actually be a better place to raise food than developed countries ----

Stick with me here!

ie if you live in Iceland and you use lots of energy to raise greenhouse tomatoes you are creating more of a carbon footprint than if you raise the tomatoes in the field in Mexico and air frieght them to Iceland.

I kid you not! 

Now I can see where the industrial way of producing crops and raising meat would leave a big footprint -- lots of petrochemical based fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, but what if you're not using all that stuff?

Now, wouldn't the transportation carbon costs become proportationally bigger?

Again, I'd really like to see the research and report. 

The article I saw was at:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/release/2008/04/080421161338.htm

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Comments:

The Iceland example is correct. Hothouse tomatoes, hydroponics, and even heated greenhouses create a large carbon footprint. However, the solution is not to ship tomatoes from Mexico, but to get by on root vegetables in the winter, supplemented by your own canned tomato sauce. I am investigating a book called, "Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning (1999)." Eliot Coleman's solution of high tunnels without heat is also a good idea.

Posted by Walter on January 27, 2009 at 03:54 PM CST #

Dear Walter,

Thank you for your comment. I too would like to hear more about the Tunnels. Could you tell me more, or where to find more information?

Posted by Pati on January 29, 2009 at 07:24 AM CST #

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