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Eat food and not fossil fuels

The current system of farm products production and distribution does not really help in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. In fact the system consumes more fuel than our eating food. Some of the factors that one should consider for facilitating reduced greenhouse gases and climate changes are detailed below.

Pollution due to Transportation

Transporting through sea is economical and the whole voyage through sea costs less than transporting them by rail or road. Hence people do not mind importing foodstuffs from various places and transporting them through the sea. So far they have not understood the implications of this. Ships use inexpensive bunker fuel that contains very high quantity of sulfur which is a highly polluting fuel. According to an estimate, the pollution caused by 15 of the largest ships in the world is equivalent to the pollution caused by 760 million cars. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported that 60,000 persons die prematurely per annum due to shipping emissions. You might find that importing lamb from New Zealand and transporting it by ship is cheap because it does not account for the cost of damages that occur to the climate because of excess pollution.

Fertilizer Production

It has been established that in order to produce one ton of fertilizer, you require 33,500 CFT of natural gas. Most of the natural gas used is shale gas which is an unconventional energy source and is quite cheap at present. Another item required for fertilizer production is peak phosphorus. This is very essential for growing food. Artificial fertilizers produced using natural gas and phosphorus ensure the continuity of our food system. However the sources of these are getting depleted. In the olden days -150 years ago – human waste and urine were collected and used in the nearby farms. This has stopped with the introduction of natural gas supply using pipelines. It is advisable to use the human waste and urine for growing food locally, thereby avoiding artificial fertilizers and phosphates and their transportation. Sweden captures urine in a separate pipeline for its phosphorus content for agricultural purposes.

The problems of Seasons

There are certain agricultural farm products which are grown only in specific seasons. For example lettuces are not produced during winter season in UK and are imported from Spain. It is possible to produce lettuces in winter season in UK provided they are grown in greenhouses. However this is expensive because of the high energy required for heating greenhouses. This is one of the cases where many people feel that it is justified to import items under such circumstances instead of depending on local goods. Are they justified?

It is advisable to eat the vegetables that are available locally in various seasons by changing your lifestyle, thereby avoiding unnecessary transportation of goods which in turn increases the greenhouse gas production. You must limit your imported item purchase to only those items that are not at all available.
Problems of Distribution

The present distribution system follows a hub and spoke model of distribution. This envisages a large central warehouse from which items are distributed to various warehouses. Organizations like Local Food Plus have come out with a model wherein they connect the farmers directly with consumers on a peer-to-peer basis. This is useful in reducing greenhouse emissions to a large extent.

Ideally you must consume local food irrespective of the season you are in. This will drastically cut down on the greenhouse gases. This is easier said than done because it requires lots of changes in the food system organization and distribution.
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