During my weekly trek to the grocery store on Saturday, I decided that I wanted a cantaloupe. Being in New Mexico, we have close proximity to most major cantaloupe producers in the area; including California, Colorado, and Texas, so I assumed that freshness and availability would not be an issue.
I saw the sale sign above the cantaloupe display and hurried over to pick one of the few remaining melons. To my surprise, the cantaloupe was from the E.U. I carefully placed the melon back down on its display. There was nothing wrong with the melon; in fact it looked quite tasty. But it disturbed me to think about the days and miles that that melon had traveled since being picked and packed in the E.U. prior to it arriving on the shelf of my local grocery store.
This blog is not about trade policy. It’s about local food, and the carbon footprint we create when we purchase items that are shipped thousands of miles to be on our shelves, when we have comparable products grown less than 500 miles away. I think we all need to ask ourselves what the term ‘fresh’ really means. Does it mean the store just put it on the shelf, does it mean that it was just picked from the field, or does it mean something in-between?
My point to this is two-fold. One, I couldn’t understand why a cantaloupe from the E.U. would be on the shelf at my local supermarket when New Mexico is literally surrounded by cantaloupe growers. The other is how much better do you think a cantaloupe, or any fruit or vegetable would taste if it had been picked a few days ago? How much better off would the environment be if we all made eating local foods a priority?
Well, I’m off in search of cantaloupe again. I’m cautiously optimistic that I can find one grown closer than the E.U.
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