Food has always travelled for sale in regions or countries of varying distance from its place of production.
The term ‘food miles’ was initiated to highlight the fact that transporting food has environmental and economic consequences.
The greater the distance food travels, the more energy the transportation consumes and the more CO2 it will release. These emissions have a significant impact on air quality and contribute to global warming.
This purely distance-based approach is relatively reductive, since the exact environmental impact depends on the means of transport used.
The concept of food miles is also limited in the sense that it only addresses the question of distance and transportation. Transit generates only part of the energy expenditure and greenhouse gas emissions.
Food miles are only an initial approximation of a product’s environmental impact.