While the subject of air travel has become a hot topic this week, it’s worth remembering that it’s not just people that travel by jumbo jet – lots of the food eaten in Western countries is flown across the globe before it reaches our plates.
Israel is in a unique position globally in that it produces virtually all of it’s own fresh food itself and even has a healthy export surplus.
But the phenomenon of ‘food miles’ has become a cause celebre for environmentalists in Europe and the USA where, in countries like the UK, the proportion of imported food is growing steadily as agricultural self-sufficiency spirals ever downwards.
Last year British eco-NGO the Soil Association took the bold step of asking whether it should revoke its organic certification from products that have been air-freighted. A timely move, as consumers have been perplexed for many years by the contradiction between growing veggies with eco-friendly organic methods, then schlepping them around for hundreds of miles in planes and lorries. According to the organic foodies, air-freight “generates 177 times more greenhouse gases than shipping, and swamps any possible benefits from growing food in an environmentally-friendly way.”
Serious food for thought.
But the proposals have caused a stir among some agricultural exporters across the world, including here in Israel where most are delivered to the UK and elsewhere in the European Union, who balked at the prospect of losing organic certification for some of their products.
Apparently, farms have been set up near to Ben Gurion International, ironically, to save the distance they have to be driven to the airport! The Soil Association will be drawing up new standards later this year air-freighted organic food, so watch this space for what happens next.