Food Miles?



Lately I have been thinking a lot about food miles and it has been heavy on my consciences for a while. For the past six years I have been a member of Slow Food and I truly believe that eating locally is a good thing from the point of view of taste, environment and economy. Yes, this has led me to a dilemma: I am importing olive oil from Italy. How do I justify this? Good question. I guess my line is that moderation is the best path: I eat local when I can and I try to be aware of food miles. For example, I eat local and seasonal produce that supports nearby farms. This makes up the bulk of my groceries. However, I purchase spices and, of course, olive oil from abroad. Let’s face we just can’t produce olive oil in Canada!

At the same time, there has been a lot of debate lately over the validity of the food miles argument. A recent article in the New York Times by James McWilliams presents the findings of environmental researchers in New Zealand who argue that the environmental cost of local food is not always as low as imported food. What is a shopper to think?

Over the holidays I read Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and Pollen makes a strong case for eating locally as a protest to the industrial food chain. I agree that change starts with the consumer. In many ways I feel that is what we are doing at Amelia Oil: we are giving our customers a chance to support sustainable, small-scale farming in Italy. With fraud and poor quality rampant in the olive oil industry, it is about time that consumers demand transparency.

After living in central Italy for several years I never really got used to using butter again. What can I say. The health benefits of eating olive oil only confirm my non-local food choice. I also know that Amelia Oil is the best quality and it is produced by people I know and care about.

2 thoughts on “Food Miles?

  1. raoul

    If you profess to respecting the slow food movement then you should take a more serious view of consuming imported oils, when US oil is available and excellent.

  2. rachel Post author

    Dear Raoul,

    Thank you for your comment. I am actually based in Canada (we cannot produce our own olive oil) and there is little oil from California for sale here. I agree that it is delicious but it is nearly impossible to get (this would also be importing). It is also extremely expensive (due to limited supply and large demand). Any suggestions?

    I am serious about Slow Food, but I am also reasonable about too. By importing olive oil from a small village in Italy I am supporting a struggling agricultural community that actually has a history and tradition of olive oil production.



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