As I sat contently in the Dutch desert feasting on a sumptuous bounty of fruit and nuts earlier this year, I didn’t consider for even a moment where my wholesome snack was grown. I just enjoyed the taste. Not many of us ever consider the birthplace of what we put in our mouths to sustain our bodies. But I recently got to thinking about food and where it comes from, long gone are the days of the local vegetable patch! What I found however was all in all pretty mind blowing.
Looking simply at the berry section at my local supermarket, I became suddenly aware of what is a truly international affair.
To start, the blackberries are from Mexico. I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that the berries stacked on the shelf were grown on an entirely different continent. Around an 11 hour flight away. I was in the presence of some well travelled berries.
I continued my journey along the shelf to the the organic raspberries which are from Spain. Muy bien! Their genetically modified counterpart travelled the immodest trip from South Africa.
The organic blueberries are transported from Chile, whilst the cheaper option comes from Peru.
It hit me then that these berries, as a collective, were better travelled than me. I zoned out until one of the supermarket’s staff asked me relatively impolitely whether they could ‘help’. I didn’t answer for a while and just smiled, then responded with ‘I wonder what the carbon footprint is for importing these berries’. That seemed to act as supermarket staff repellant. She walked off briskly.
I’m no enviro-activist but when you start to consider the transport cost of operation, both on a financial and planetary health basis, a slightly more solemn light is cast on the plentiful bounty that is layed before you.
Modern day first world citizens have come to expect immediate satiation. I hear the collective cry ‘we can’t grow our own berries because we’d have to wait for them to grow and we need them NOW!’, as I leave the supermarket with my Chilean blueberries.
(Photo – Eli Woodbine, Tilburg, 2015)