The Economics of Eating

Why you should eat local food.


| July/August 2005


Grocery store prices don’t cover environmental costs that result from transporting food across the country, says a recent University of Essex (England) study (Food Policy, March 2005). If people bought only local food, billions of dollars would be saved and planetary pollution reduced, the researchers conclude.THE BOTTOM LINE: To really earn environmental karma points, purchase produce that’s both locally and organically grown. Here are the study’s estimates.

$4 BILLION
Amount the United Kingdom would save annually in environmental and traffic costs if all food consumed was locally grown.

$2.1 BILLION
Additional amount the United Kingdom would save annually in environmental costs if all its food were grown organically.

12.4 MILES
Ideal radius that people should buy food from within.

$189 MILLION
Further environmental cost savings if people cycled, walked, or used public transportation to get to grocery stores and farmer’s markets instead of driving.

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