Nowadays, more people can eat a wide variety of food that is grown in other areas than the food from local areas.
Do you think the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?
Because of the globalization of trade, a wider range of food is available to modern consumers, but this also results in unavoidable long-distance food transportation. In my view, although we should take into account the impact on the environment, this is generally a positive development.
It is true that long-distance food transport is a major contributor to certain environmental issues. First of all, the increase in food miles indicates higher fuel consumption and excessive carbon emissions, which contributes to climate change. Among all the modes of transport, food transported by air, usually unavoidable in the import and export of food, is especially damaging to the environment, since this consumes much more fuel and emits pollutants at high altitudes, where more damage is done to the ozone layer. Secondly, in order to extend the shelf-life of fresh produce, preservation techniques such as packaging are widely adopted during long-distance transport, which is associated with huge amounts of non-biodegradable waste.
However, the advantages are distinct. To some extent, long-distance food transport is a necessity rather than an option, since it is impossible for densely-populated metropolises to develop agriculture to provide residents with adequate locally grown food. In most cases, food should be transported from suburban or rural areas, or from other countries to meet the demand of city populations. Also, the choices of consumers would not be restricted by the seasons and regions thanks to the globalization of food. From an economic perspective, this trend benefits agricultural producing countries, where farmers now can sell to distant export markets, which helps them move away from subsistence agriculture of producing food for their own consumption or local markets.
In conclusion, although there is a long way to go to achieve a balance between the protection of the environment, the needs of consumers, and the growth of economies, long-distance food transport is necessary, beneficial, and economically viable.