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Cost of Shipping Groceries......

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

 Interesting piece in the NYTimes on the environmental cost of shipping groceries.


Certainly in the wealthiest countries, and now also in developing nations, there is an increasing demand for foods regardless of season or where they're produced (most cheaply). But the obvious cost is the CO2 and other global warming gases emitted from transportation.


"Under longstanding trade agreements, fuel for international freight carried by sea and air is not taxed. Now, many economists, environmental advocates and politicians say it is time to make shippers and shoppers pay for the pollution, through taxes or other measures."


I don't know whether consumers will be willing to pick up the slack (in terms of extra taxes) on imported goods...or whether it might be a good idea (in the same way that insane gas prices have boosted the public drive toward alternative energies)....


post #2 of 10

Yeah, it's crazy the plethora of foods we've grown accustomed to having that can only be grown in specific locales around the world...particularly really perishable items - the shipping infrastructure is enormous. I'm so used to having bananas that I don't know what I'd do since they can't be grown locally.


I think if I had to move somewhere to enjoy the local fare, I'd have to head to Prince Edward Island in Canada so I wouldn't have to live without those mussels, haha.

post #3 of 10

Yeah interesting article.  There definitely needs to be some sort of carbon cost assessed when foods and other products are transported long distances, whether it be a carbon tax or included in the carbon cap and trade system as Europe is proposing.  I didn't realize fuel was exempt from taxes when transported internationally.  That's crap!

Edited by dana1981 - Wed, 30 Apr 2008 16:48:39 UTC
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

 i know!  but, according to that article, that tax-free international food transport may soon be a thing of the you think consumers will pay??

post #5 of 10

My guess is that it will increase the purchase of more locally-grown food, but people will certainly pay somewhat higher prices for the foods they're accustomed to.  I'm sure they'll complain about it a lot, but pay the price anyway (just like with gas).

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

 Good call.  Will complain, but without a choice...  Reading deej's comment about the (in)availability of bananas, it occurs to me that most people (myself included) don't even know what fruits/vegetables are seasonal....

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Lola:

 ...most people (myself included) don't even know what fruits/vegetables are seasonal....



I was inspired to start a wiki to address this! Anyone with expertise, please add to it!

post #8 of 10

About the bananas- you can grow them in a green house.  Como Zoo in MN has banana trees and pineapple plants- we just saw them today!


You would need to heat the green house in winter, but what if you could put a green house in the middle of your home (or other building being heated anyway), with a sun roof at the top- picture a home with a banana tree planted in the basement and an opening for it to grow through the upstairs floor, up to the skylight, encased by glass to heat it beyond the home's usual temperature...


post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

 nice! i wonder what types of other tropical fruits and vegetables we could grow here with greenhouses...and why don't we do that more? i guess the cost of maintaining a greenhouse is more than shipping from somewhere south?  i wonder how much more of a financial burden it'd be to grow these types of produce locally

post #10 of 10

I think that in some cases, it's okay to ship food- such as when foods can't be produced in a certain region (don't know that the home green house is practical on a large scale...) or to get food out of season (because in some places, like MN, there's really nothing available in the winter time!).


But importing and exporting the same product- like the waffles and bottled water in the article- or shipping food somewhere to be processed, just to then ship it back- that is ridiculously wasteful.  :(


I think that with shipping, it's time that we get to work increasing fuel efficiency of trucks, planes, and ships- because shipping is something that is always going to be there, so it's worth investing in ways to do it greener.

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