Yesterday evening I served my girlfriends pumpkin soup at my house. So what, why do you have to write a blog post about that, you might ask. Good point. Nothing sensational happened, no one died from soup poisoning, as far as I know, but the pumpkin soup got me thinking. Because the pumpkin had travelled all the way from Argentina to Belgium.
Photo: Flickr/Darwin Bell
When I was looking through my cook books earlier on the day, the pumpkin soup tempted most, even though I knew it was off-season for pumpkin. And as I was getting the ingrediens at the local supermarket, pumpkin from Argentina was my only option.
Okay, time to come to the point. I follow all the discussions about rising food prices, the advantage of local food, the enviromental problems connected to transporting food from the other side of the earth.
So, my dillemma is this – since I bought pumpkin outside the season, I had to get pumpkin that came from the other side of the earth, and thus, huge amounts of CO2 had to be emitted in order to transport it to Delhaize in Belgium. As I was eating breakfast this morning, I read this article in the Herald Tribune, where they use an example I’ve heard several times before:
“Cod caught off Norway is shipped to China to be turned into filets, then shipped back to Norway for sale.”
Reason: Cheap labour. But there are of course some problems:
“Food is traveling because transport has become so cheap in a world of globalization,” said Frederic Hague (his name is Hauge), head of the Norwegian environmental group Bellona. “If it was just a matter of processing fish cheaper in China, I’d be happy with it traveling there. The problem is pollution.”
I totally agree with the enviromental aspects of this discussion. The cod example is insane, seen from an enviromental perspective, just as “Britain, for example, imports – and exports – 15,000 tons of waffles, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia.”
But if we are suppose to stick to local food, instead of eating peas from Kenya, avocado from Peru, aspargus from Mexico, what consequences will that have for international trade and poor farmers in developing countries? If we stick to the “eat locally” -idea, which is very sympathic, what will happen to the poor farmers who are dying to get into the rich markets in the West?
I’m a bit confused. This dilemma seems a bit like the biofuel situation. Biofuel seemed like a fantastic idea at first (cheap, clean energy), but it got much more complicated when it seemed to be linked to the rising food prices and political insability, for example on Haiti.
Does anyone have a good answer for me?