Reducing Our Carbon Food-Print

Andrew wrote an entry a few months ago about the distances produce may travel before arriving on our plates for consumption. I was just reading an article about reducing our carbon footprints and the picture that was painted for me just blew me away – so I thought I’d share…

In the article, Maribeth Crandell describes the trip that the beans for your coffee may have taken. She says:

Say you have a cup of coffee in front of you right now. Where did that coffee come from? Did you grow the beans yourself? Not likely. Let’s trace it backward from the grocery store shelf to the truck that brought it from, say, a field in Colombia. (Coffee is the second largest legal export commodity after oil. The United States drinks about one fifth of the world’s coffee.) After these beans are crushed and dried, they’re transported by freighter using Venezuelan oil to New Orleans, where the beans are roasted using natural gas from Texas. Then they’re taken to Seattle in an 18-wheeler which gets six miles per gallon of diesel at $4.50/gallon. A smaller truck takes the beans to the grocery store where you bought them.

(To read the whole article here is the link:

Now, the reason this had such a strong impact on me was because of the amount of fuel needed for the transport of these coffee beans. With the global fuel crisis that we are currently in, it seems like a good idea to reduce how much fuel we consume, directly, and in this case, indirectly (not to mention the effects we would have on lowering fuel emissions.) It’s amazing to think about the power each of us has.

Anyway, getting to my point, if we buy our produce from local farmers, we can go a long way towards limiting how much we depend on ‘well-traveled’ goods. Obviously, we can’t get our coffee from local growers (if you can, you have to let me know about that), but there is such great produce being grown close by. Granted, sometimes people simply don’t know when or where these farmer’s markets (or any other sellers of locally grown produce) are. We hope that people will share their insights on Cook’s Compass and use some of the power they have to literally make huge changes for our planet.


2 Responses

  1. Have you considered Mexican coffee? Still travels many miles, but it’s not as far away as Columbia. Every little bit helps… Ah, and remember to buy shade-grown!

    Have you started getting the CSA deliveries? We’ve been getting them for over a year and it’s an incredible culinary experience!!

  2. Hi Plozano76, Good point about Mexican coffee. I guess that’s as ‘local’ as we can do! I don’t know as much as I should about shade-grown coffee, but my understanding is that it gives farmers an economically attractive alternative to the clear-cut farming that is all too common in rain-forested areas. It’s not an entirely ‘free’ solution (i.e. there is still some disruption to the ecosystem) but light years better than the more common alternatives.

    As for the CSA, I pick up my first delivery tonight! I’m very excited!!

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