Not a particularly productive day (I may be nursing a cold) today but lots of thinking about what we know, what we don’t know and what we choose to ignore.
It turns out for example that there isn’t any regulation on what distance is required for you to be able to use the term ‘local’on your packaging. Waitrose decided on 30 miles. In the US you can go up to 640km to call something ‘local’ or ‘regional’.
This also made me think about the distance itself. Where a cow is raised for example isn’t where it will be killed but will probably be where it will be butchered. When the farm gets the pieces back it isn’t even sure that it comes from the animals that were sent in. Often the labour is cheap and untrained so bits like the pigs cheeks don’t ever come back to the farmer even if they are highly desirable by cooks in local kitchens. The meat will then travel to the consumer. So is the food mile considering that whole trip? I’m not sure.
I also thought I’d map out the UK’s official slaughterhouses that deal with cows, pigs, horses and deer (ungulates). Not many around London obviously. But also not many period considering we’re feeding over 65M people.
I was also reminded of the BBC Radio 4 show on EL Shumacher an economics thinker and philosopher in the 70s. There’s a college in the UK that takes his philosophy into practice and there’s a lovely sounding sustainable food workshop next month. I wish I could attend.
I think for this Friday I’d like to think about what we’d do if we knew how far away things had to travel to get to us. Would we be surprised about it? Would we spend more / less? Would it make any difference?
This may take the shape of a little ‘low carbon market’.