If you've watched the news lately, you've probably heard that the increase in fuel cost is contributing to the increase in food cost. Not only because of corn ethanol competing as the popular use of corn, but due to other energy intensive processes like transportation.
"Food miles" refers to a concept that looks at the distance which food has been transported from production to consumption. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, most food products travel between 1300 to 2000 miles from farms to our dining tables....That's a lot of miles...
I agree that it might be hard to quantify the benefit of reducing or increasing food miles. For example, how does one compare the health benefits of an organic product that is transportation intensive to one that isn't? Or what happens to people living hundreds or thousands of miles from arable lands? (Which is very common in most of the western world). The amount of energy required to grow crops or feed livestock might compete with or even exceed the energy required for transportation.
Given all of the factors above, it won't hurt to try monitoring food miles. Although, this is a difficult feat for most consumers, as we shop for whatever is available to us at our local grocery stores and supermarkets.
I believe that this is the duty of grocery stores, to play their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This also helps them to reduce transportation costs, and will be a very marketable idea to any aware and environmentally-conscious local community.
And in reference to the opening paragraph of this blog, might help reduce the cost of food and fuel.