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"Fair miles"? The concept of "food miles" through a sustainable development lens

James MacGregor and Bill Vorley

Opinion paper, 2 pages

The concept of “food miles” presents an argument to buy goods which have traveled the shortest distance from farm to table, and to discriminate against long-haul transportation, especially air-freighted goods. The long-distance transport of food is associated with additional emissions due to increased transportation coupled with greater packaging, as well as negative impacts on local rural communities, and a disconnection between the public and local farming. Furthermore, “food miles” encapsulates (and is at the vanguard of) the climate change debate in the UK. In light of growing international concern over the speed and scale of climate change, the concept of “food miles” has captured public attention and apparently is changing some consumers’ behavior, although only around one-third of shoppers know of the concept.

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