IATE Term of the Week: Food Miles

food miles feature

The food we eat may have run hundreds of kilometres until it reaches our plate. For example, a plate of New Zealand lamb with Kenyan beans and South African carrots has covered a total of 27,700km!

According to the Cambridge dictionary food miles is ‘‘the distance between the place where food is grown or made and the place where it is eaten’’. Professor Tim Lang first introduced the ‘’food miles’’ concept at the Sustainable Agriculture Food and Environment (SAFE) Alliance, in the early 1990s in the United Kingdom. This concept is part of the broader issue of sustainability, which deals with a range of environmental, social and economic issues, including local food. However, what is the real meaning of ‘’food miles’’?

It suggests that we must consume products, which have been cultivated close to the area we live in order to eliminate pollution produced during their transportation from farms to shops. Nevertheless, focusing only on the distance is narrow. It is not only the distance that matters but also the method of transportation. In general, the air transport is causing the most damage in this context. Truck journeys are also significant additions to the food footprint. Finally, sea travels are efficient and a more ‘green’ choice of food transportation, as many goods can be transported in one go, producing smaller carbon expenditure. However, according to the researchers, only around 2% of the environmental impact of food comes from transporting it from farm to shop. The vast majority of its footprint comes from food processing, storage, packaging and growing conditions.

Furthermore, eating food made by local ingredients has more benefits besides the care for the environment. For example, it can support and boost local producers and the economy of small cities and villages. In addition, it helps people to learn more about the seasonality of products and thus to prefer goods of each season offered by the local market. Cooking fresh, seasonal and organic food, bought the same day is the perfect start of a more eco-friendly life style.

Check the term at IATE (Food miles­):

Food miles IATESources:
Food miles. The New York Times. December 2006. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/24/weekinreview/24severson.html Accessed October 17, 2019

Food miles. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_miles Accessed October 17, 2019

Foodmiles.com. https://www.foodmiles.com/ Accessed October 17, 2019

How the myth of food miles hurts the planet. The Guardian. March 2008. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/mar/23/food.ethicalliving Accessed October 17, 2019

The eco-diet … and it’s not just about food miles. The Guardian. June 2007. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/jun/04/lifeandhealth.business Accessed October 17, 2019

Dictrionairy.cambridge.org. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/food-miles Accessed October 17, 2019

Food and Transportation. The conscious challenge. May 2019. https://www.theconsciouschallenge.org/ecologicalfootprintbibleoverview/food-transportation Accessed October 17, 2019

antonia pappaAntonia Pappa – Communication trainee at the Terminology Unit

Born in Greece in 1992. She holds a Bachelor degree of Communication, Culture and Media and she worked, for three years, for a newspaper and food magazines in Greece. Antonia is now taking a Master’s degree in International Marketing and Communication and is working her thesis about social media advertising. In her free time, she likes travelling, doing yoga and going for a walk with her dog.