«I know I’m supposed to hate humans, but there’s something about them.
They don’t just survive. They discover, they create…»
(From Brad Bird’s “Ratatouille”)
In the past, it was said that an “imported product” was a rare, exclusive, high quality and tasty good. The purchase of products that are absent from local market has always been reserved to rich people; you only have to think of sugar, salt, exotic fruits or spices.
In the 1970s industrial and commercial progresses enabled even common people to buy imported goods: gradually, these products have cornered the market, so much so that today is more difficult to find a good labelled “Made in Italy”. As far as fresh food is concerned, the situation is exactly the same; kiwi represents an example. Chinese gooseberry is a fruit, native to southern China (where is called Yang Tao); it’s famous all over the world as kiwi, the name that has been given to it by New Zealanders, after its sudden diffusion in the country.
Nowadays, Italy is the world’s largest producer of kiwi so it’s very easy to find it in our supermarkets; however, every grocery store displays New Zealander kiwi instead of Italian ones, also when they are seasonal fruits. Why does this happen?
The answer is not immediate, but everybody knows that the distance between the place of production and the point of sale is an irrelevant variable, if compared with other production and sale factors. This is not only the case of kiwi but also of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, fish and meat.
In a nutshell, today, we can shopping and buy goods that have come hundreds of kilometres.
The “Food miles” site allows to calculate how far our daily foodstuffs have come to get in our houses and to verify how their travel is long on average. The result is astonishing.
Just try to do that on a normal weekly grocery shopping and, then, imagine multiplying the outcome for tens of thounsands times, hundreds of thousands times: each day, lots of people fill their shopping carts with foreign products.
Well, now you can get a sense of the huge quantity of means of transport required for move food around the world: ships, planes, trains, trucks, vans, etc. Of course, environmental consequences are conceivable: pollution, greenhouse effect and much more.
The fact that there is a growing ignorance about food and agriculture is particularly worrying; we have become unable to recognize seasons and to identify the origins of products or the culture which expresses them.
It’s only by taking such actions that we will be able to appreciate and celebrate imported goods as they deserve.
Translated into English by Arianna Rimoldi
Originally published on http://blog.zonageografia.scuola.com
Photo Container Stack (cc) blake.thornberry