We are very fortunate in the Bradford on Avon area to have low carbon, locally produced food readily available.
Increasingly some food retailers, schools, hospitals, restaurants and other organisations and individuals are trying to ensure that they are sourcing their food to high environmental and ethical standards. As well as for supplying context, we hope it may be useful to consider the following research findings to reinforce our awareness of the need to build upon these very positive local developments.
20% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to the UK food chain (7% due to agriculture) shown in studies by World Wildlife Fund and the Food Climate Research Network. The overall figure is estimated to be 30%, if land use change (including forest) is counted proportionally for the UK.
Unsustainably grown soya and palm oil are both implicated in environmental damage and rain forest destruction.
Soya is used extensively as animal feed, especially for pigs and chickens. Jim Paice, the former Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, stated in November 2010 that we import about 3 million tonnes of soya into the UK annually, and that ‘about two-thirds of all our manufactured food contain derivatives of, or ingredients made from soya’; also that ‘soya is a major ingredient of vegetarian food.’
The Guardian, 10 May 2011, reported that palm oil is in about a third of supermarket products, from biscuits and margarine to shampoo and confectionery. Palm kernel meal (10% of world production is fed to UK animals) is used in feed for cattle, pigs, cats, dogs and goldfish. The report, Mapping and Understanding UK Palm Oil Use, says none of the palm kernel meal Britain imports is sustainably grown.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra’s) website food transport indicators show that in 2009 the HGV food kilometres within the UK amounted to 4,867 million (this is 25.8% of total UK HGV kilometres) or 61,137 million tonne kilometres (46.3% of the total UK HGV tonnage). This does not include the food transport from abroad or the miles that food is transported within the UK prior to export.