Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It isn't easy being green (part 143)

Sending food thousands of miles round the world is bad for the environment and we should stop doing it, right? Not according to New Zealand's Green Party which is asking British greens not to support a campaign against NZ lamb and dairy exports.

'We have written to British Green parties and other organisations campaigning on food miles to point out that the evidence shows that New Zealand dairy and lamb actually has lower emissions than that commercially produced in Britain,' says NZ Green co-leader Russel Norman in a press release. 'The total greenhouse emissions released in the production and transport of dairy and lamb shipped to Britain from New Zealand are lower than the emissions generated by the production of dairy and lamb in Britain. A Lincoln University study led by Professor Caroline Saunders provides good evidence for this case,' he added.

Norman may or may not be right - but once choosing what you eat becomes an exercise in balancing a myriad of ethical issues from animal welfare, to fair trade, to greenhouse emissions, the result can only be to tie yourself up in knots. Or go hungry. Many of these concerns are misplaced, but even where there is natural desire to make the world a better place, the solutions offered always seem to come down to greater regulation or individual consumption. If global warming were the problem everyone makes it out to be, avoiding New Zealand lamb would hardly be a solution, and buying fair trade coffee won't end poverty.

Still, watching 'ethical consumers' paralysed with indecision in the fresh food department makes for good sport.

NZ Greens write to British Greens on food miles, Scoop, 31 October 2006

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