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Wynen, Els
Vanzetti, David
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
ADBI Working Paper No. 118
Some consumers and environmentalists espouse purchasing food that is produced locally or nationally. An appealing expression of this is the food miles concept, which reflects the aim of minimizing the distance food has traveled before reaching the consumer. The concept of food miles is flawed because it ignores the costs of production, the mode and scale of transport, and the importance of other inputs such as capital and labor. Nonetheless, the notion has become popular recently with the rise in the costs of both food and transport. Indeed, some organizations that set standards for organic certification are considering incorporating, or have already incorporated, food miles into their standards, including a ban on air freighted goods. As a result, exporters, including those in some developing countries, may lose their markets in developed countries, especially in Europe. This approach may make consumers and foreign producers worse off, and may lead to increases in global energy use and emissions, contrary to the stated objectives.
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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