Eating local doesn’t help the environment much

Cows are surprisingly bad for the environmentIt’s a good thing that being ‘green’ is becoming fashionable. We are hammering our environment so increased awareness is a good thing. That said, people don’t always think things through so sometimes their efforts don’t make the most sense. For instance in the past I have blogged that organic food is not necessarily good for the environment.

A fashionable way of eating green is to eat local foods – food bought from local producers. The idea is that buying local foods decreases ‘food miles’ – the distances that food must be transported by vehicles emitting greenhouse gasses.

However a study covered in a recent National Geographic article has shown that eating local doesn’t have much of an impact. The fact is that ‘food miles’ only contribute 11% of the total climate impact of foods. Eating beef 1 day a week less would be more effective that buying 100% of your food locally!

The reason for this is that producing cows is really tough on the environment. Cows need lots of grazing, and crucially produce a lot more methane. This impact is so significant that by reducing beef consumption you could easily benefit the environment more than by buying locally produced foods.