Meals And Their Mileage: How Far Has Your Food Travelled?

I try to eat locally produced food where I can and I try to eat in food that's in season. I find it insane that whilst apples grow perfectly well in the UK, almost 70% of the apples we eat come from Europe or even as far afield as New Zealand?  I mean there is nothing nicer than a Pembrokeshire new potato in season or a blackberry and apple tart in the autumn.

As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to the taste of foreign apple varieties to the point that traditional British apples are at risk of becoming “dwindling heritage curiosities,” according to a BBC report. That can't be a good thing, surely.

In the midst of our busy lives, many of us rush into the supermarket once a week with the aim of getting in-and-out in as quickly as possible, indiscriminately piling our trolleys with fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and fish with little or no thought for where it originated.

A new tool - ‘From Farm to Fridge’ - offers an easy opportunity to kickstart the thought process, highlighting where many UK staples generally originate - and it makes for eye-opening reading.

The most well-travelled foods 

Almond milk has mounted its own mini-revolution on the diets of health-conscious UK consumers in recent years. It’s a valuable alternative for many people who cannot eat or drink dairy, but at what cost?

Almonds tend to be one of the most well-travelled items in our kitchens. A great percentage of them are grown in the US, particularly California and some are imported from Australia.

Avocados are equally trendy right now, but there is growing awareness around the deforestation and drought their production can lead to.

Avocados are mostly sourced for the UK market from California, Florida and Mexico. There’s a Spanish region where they can be grown December to May and some imports come from there.

The staple foods most likely to be homegrown 

Carrots are one of the British favourites that are most likely to have been grown within the UK.

The British Carrot Growers Association indicate that the supply is more than plentiful to fulfil our requirements, with 100 carrots per member of the population apparently grown in the UK each year.

That level of production is partially driven by a significant carrot export market, but ensuring you don’t overbuy is important too. Around a third of all the food produced for human consumption worldwide is wasted and £470 a year spent on food that is binned on average per UK family, according to Friends of the Earth.

Runner beans are another popular food likely to have been homegrown, during their natural season between June and September. Outside of that period they can come from as far afield as Africa.

Should we care about food miles? 

It’s easy to see that there has to be an environmental impact from transporting food thousands of miles for consumption on the other side of the world.

Whilst it is something we ought to acknowledge, it may be that becoming aware of food miles is more important in terms of the awareness it raises of food origin than necessarily in terms of simplistic equations around distance travelled equalling harm.

However, if you have a garden and a small vegetable plot or an allotment, the satisfaction of growing your own fruit and vegetables can be great. Just be careful about using
 heated greenhouses that can impact on the environment.

Non-governmental environmental organisation Greenpeace urges all of us to ‘reconnect with our food’ to become more informed and educated not just on the miles it travels from producer to plate but also the production methods. After all, it’s production methods that have the biggest impact on our world, people and animals.

What are your thoughts about food miles? Do you try and eat local food in season?


  1. There's so much to think about regarding food. I'm really glad people are becoming more aware of how and where the food they eat is produced though.

  2. I only have a terrace at my place but even then I still manage to grow my own tomatoes, potatoes, onions, herbs, chillis and even an Olive Tree, but we will see how that goes x

  3. Ooh if Im honest this isnt something Ive thought about before. Interesting read!