Stop Flying Fish and Fruit – Don’t Buy Air-Freighted Food
As a rule, any food that travels by airplane is going to be a high-carbon choice. Something that is air freighted emits greenhouse gases up to 30 times more than that of food shipped by boat from the same point on the globe. [See source.] You may not realize it when shopping at your local grocery store, but quite a few common foods come with a high climate price tag.
What You Can Do
- Be aware of what you’re eating, where it came from, and how it got to you. Ones to watch: cheese that isn’t local (if you’re not near Wisconsin or California, chances are your cheese is air-freighted); most fresh seafood from far away; pineapples; and out-of-season (winter) asparagus, fresh berries, and herbs.
- Don’t shy away from frozen fish. Keep in mind that the world’s best sushi is all “flash-frozen.” This fast freezing keeps fish from decaying and less prone to parasites than fish that has never been frozen. It also often tastes fresher. Some “fresh” fish has been out of the water for as much as 14 days!
- Try to be flexible to the food that’s in season and seek out alternatives to tropical fruits and imported cheeses you might normally enjoy without a second thought. Looking for grapes to adorn a (local) cheese tray? Try local apples or dried fruits instead.
- Grow your own herbs indoors in the winter!
What Bon Appétit Management Company Is Doing
We are evaluating both distance traveled and, more critically, the mode of transportation when making purchasing decisions in order to prioritize carbon-efficient transportation of food.
That means no air-freighted seafood; restricting purchases of vegetables, meat, non-tropical fruit, and bottled water purchases to North America; encouraging purchases of seasonal and regional fruits; and training chefs and managers how to prioritize tropical fruit that is typically boated or trucked versus air-freighted when needed.
Learn More | Go to General Resources
- Catch of the Freezer, New York Times
- What’s the Impact of Imported Tropical Fruit?, Treehugger.com
- Food Ethics Council: Air Freight, Weber, C.L., and H.S. Matthews. 2008. Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States. Environmental Science and Technology 42(10): 3508–3513.
- Food Transportation Issues and Reducing the Carbon Footprint, in Green Technologies in Food Production and Processing (ed: Y. Arcand & J. Boye), Springer (2012).
- The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture United National Food and Agriculture Organization