Friday, November 10, 2006

What's in the box?

In our quest to find the best organic food box scheme, we are now on our third, count 'em, supplier. Long gone are the days when you could simply head to your nearest supermarket and buy all of the produce you needed for the week. I mean there are so many rules to be adhered to these days.

It has to be organic doesn't it. We don't want to poison ourselves with all of those nasty chemicals that non-organic farmers spray onto their crops. It also has to be local. We don't want to ruin the planet by trucking the green-groceries half-way round the world, or even half way across the country if we can help it.

It has to be in season. Now this is a new one for city folk like myself. Apparently fruits and vegetables don't grow and ripen all year round. It has something to do with the sun, and the days getting shorter or longer. The supermarkets have been conning us naive food-buying folk for years by putting food from far off climes on their shelves for three quarters of the year, probably at huge expense to them and therefore to us. As a result they have convinced us, or is it just me, that Mango is in season from January to December. I have just been told that Mango doesn't grow in this country and is probably a pretty bad example, but you get my drift.

Well I thought I had it all sorted out until I watched the news the other night. Apparently there is another factor to add to the equation. Let's call this factor 'y' for the sake of argument. If you differentiate 'y' by time 't' then you might think that you had ended up back at school, and you would be right. So, we won't do that - what we now need to know is the total amount of CO2, 'y', that is generated by growing and transporting fruit 'x', and this is not at all obvious.

The Kiwis, the nation not the fruit, have been hitting back at the terrible slurs that the Kiwis, the fruit not the nation, are not green. Now I can see what you are thinking there, and you would be right: that what I really meant was that they are not Green. The Kiwis (nation) maintain that the Kiwis (fruit) are actually more green than a tomato. Now I can see what you are thinking there: that they don't seem to be saying very much, until you realise that the tomato is not just any tomato, but one grown in a heated greenhouse, on, say, the Isle of Wight.

The total amount of CO2, 'y', generated by producing and shipping us the decidedly green Kiwi, 'x', (fruit again), is apparently less than the CO2 used in producing and shipping the decidedly red tomato, 'z'. This apparent conundrum, sorry equation, can be solved when you add fact 'a': that the Kiwi is shipped using a ship, and the tomato is shipped using a truck, but has been grown out of season using lots of artificial heat. This has got everything to do with the fact that ships don't give out anywhere near the amount of CO2 that a plane does, and the fact that the days are much shorter in the Isle of Wight.

Is that clear?

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