Herald and Journal Herald & Journal, March 23, 1998

A lot energy spent on food


I ran across this article recently and thought you might find it interesting. It was written by John Hendrickson and is from a publication called "From Asparagus to Zucchini, a Guide to Farm Fresh Produce."

"The average food item in the United States travels 1,300 miles before being eaten.

Only about 10 percent of the fossil fuel energy used in the world's food system is used in production; the other 90 percent goes into packaging, transportation, and marketing.

Twenty percent of the energy used to supply food is expended just for packaging. (Ten percent of the cost of food is for packaging.)

A farmer must produce and sell 104 pounds of corn to buy a 25 ounce package of frosted flakes; 93 pounds of potatoes to buy a 3 ounce package of potato skins covered with melted cheese.

Three percent of the farms in the United States supply 75 percent of the nation's food. Ninety percent of all fresh vegetables consumed are now grown in the San Joaquin Valley of California.

In 1973, 21 cents of every food dollar was spent on manufactured foods. In 1987, it was 41 cents. Following current trends, the figure will be 90 cents in the year 2000.

The average American uses three times as much energy simply to bring food to the table as the average citizen of a developing country used for all purposes. ..."

Now you have an idea of what it takes to feed your family. I guess there are many things done and costs that are incurred before you take a bite of those delicious veggies.

It's quite a sight in the San Joaquin Valley during the vegetable harvest. Truckloads and truckloads of carrots and tomatoes is a common sight. I'd hate to think how disastrous it would be if the end gate came off a truck full of tomatoes. Instant ketchup.

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