How far has your food traveled?

By on July 23, 2019
Food

Buying local can have environmental and economic benefits and it is something that an increasing number of people say is important to them. But how often do you really consider how far the food in your fridge has traveled to get there?

Carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and apples are all widely grown in the UK so you might assume the vegetables on your plate originated here, but in reality, they may not have done. In fact, collectively they may have traveled 8,800 air miles! With the help of a new interactive tool from online electronics store AO.com we had a look at some of the staple items stocked in the fridges of many UK homes and discovered the truth.

The UK is the biggest Broccoli importer

Whilst broccoli is widely grown in the UK, we were the biggest importer in the world of the vegetable last year, according to Indexbox. The British broccoli season is June to September but it’s never off the shelves of our supermarkets. Spain is one of the biggest providers of broccoli to the UK, with other major providers being France and Italy. A flight alone between Spain and the UK is around 900 miles. 

Less than a third of our apples are UK grown

Though Britain is brimming with apple orchards Gro Intelligence says of all the apples eaten in the UK in 2018, only 31 percent were homegrown. We import many apples from Europe, particularly France, with South Africa being another significant provider. Some of our apples come from as far away as New Zealand. The flight distance between South Africa and the UK is around 5,600 miles.

Almost all our carrots are grown in the UK

Almost all the carrots on the shelves in UK shops and supermarkets are grown right here, according to Anglia Farmer. It’s one of the few vegetables for which the UK is pretty much self-reliant, with 97% of the carrots on our shelves said to be homegrown. Of course, there are still food miles attached to carrots which have to be transported from farm to store.

New potatoes may be shipped from Europe, Egypt or Israel

We grow a lot of potatoes in the UK but we still import them too. The Guardian has reported that imports account for as much as a quarter of UK requirements. New (baby) potatoes can come from as far afield as Egypt and Israel with France and Spain also providers. The flight distance between Egypt and the UK is around 2,300 miles. 

That’s a lot of air miles

Clearly, this is a pretty crude look at the journeys some of our foodstuffs may take, but it is food for thought (pardon the pun), nonetheless. More than 70 percent of respondents told AO that buying locally was important and 60% said they’d be prepared to pay more to allow it. If that’s the case, perhaps we all need to give a bit more thought to the origins of the contents of our fridges.

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How far has your food traveled?