1,500 miles, more or less

How many times have you read or heard the statistic: Food travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Jane Black uncovered this well-worn statistic in a recent Slate article, “What’s in a Number?” This stat has been bandied around by Time, Newsweek, Walmart, and even Slate itself.

Evidently the figure dates back to a 2001 study by Richard Pirog, associate director of Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, compared local, regional, and national food distribution paths to find out which model was the most environmentally friendly. By studying food miles, his team calculated the carbon print of 33 U.S. grown fruits and veggies left as they traveled from various origins to their final destination in Chicago. Not only was the last sample of data collected in 1998 but the researchers used MapQuest to plot the trucking routes with the mid-west as the central hub.

While the 1,500 stat isn’t an absolute truth, people are talking and thinking about where their food comes from…

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