The Issue

Sourcing and serving food that’s flown halfway round the world certainly doesn’t sound like a recipe for a one planet plate.

But, food miles alone, or the distance food has traveled, is not the best way to judge whether it’s sustainable.
Yes, air transport does have an impact but flying fruit and vegetables accounts for only a tiny part of their overall effect. You also have to take into account things like: seasonality, the water source, how the crops are grown, fertilisers and other inputs.

Driving just 6.5 miles emits more carbon than flying a pack of green beans from Kenya to the UK.

Why buy local?

The arguments for food that’s produced locally are many and varied.

Five ‘miles better’ reasons for sourcing locally:

  • You’ll be supporting local farmers and producers
  • You are protecting UK food heritage
  • You get to enjoy great quality and taste
  • You are supporting your local economy
  • You can cut down on wasted packaging

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My first piece of advice would be to challenge your existing suppliers – the big wholesalers. Call them in, and say to them “tell me where you are sourcing your stuff from” – and tell them that you’d like at least 25% to come from local producers. Then you’ll start getting somewhere

Nick Leach

Head of Catering Services at Portsmouth University

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