Degredation through raw material production

1. Agro-industrialisation

Jonathan Foley: The other inconvenient truth

Watch the BBC One programme: Crop to Shop: Jimmy’s Supermarket Secrets with it’s case studies of potatoes grown in the Egyptian desert, beans grown in Kenya and peppers grown in the Netherlands.


The Guardian – Qatar building farms in the desert

Hidden Costs of Industrial Agriculture 2013

Is Salmon farming bad for the environment? – The Guardian 2017

How Peru’s wells are being sucked dry by British love of asparagus 2010

Trend: Concern grows over negative effects of industrial agricultural practices. 2012

2. Environmental consequences of increasing international demand for raw materials.

The Guardian – Avocados

Case study A – Cut flowers from Kenya sold in international markets

The Guardian – Air-freight flowers greener than Dutch hothouses, say Kenyans – Behind the label: Cut flowers

The Kenya Flower Council website 

IPPR – Impact of the flower industry on Kenya’s sustainable development

Case study B – Deepwater Horizon disaster

Summary of the disaster –  Horizon 2010 Deepwater oil spill case study

BP’s Deepwater Horizon: A Case Study in Safety Oversight

The Deepwater Horizon Accident – Lessons for NASA

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3. Food miles


Wkipedia definition website

Food miles are defined as the distance food travels from where it is produced to where it is eaten. In many LEDCs people are subsistence farmers so only eat products that they have produced themselves. However, as countries develop people start expecting a greater variety of foods and they expect foods to be available all year. These changes in taste, coupled with the improvements in transport and refrigeration have drastically increased food miles.

It is possible to transport many food products by road, rail and ship as long as they have a long shelf life e.g. dry pasta, rice, tins, cereals, biscuits, wine, etc. However, it is necessary to transport perishable products like fruit and vegetables by air. Air is the most polluting form of transport and contributes significantly to the greenhouse effect. In the UK it is estimated that 1% of food is transported by air, but it accounts for over 11% of carbon emissions (

However, some people say that it is far too simplistic just to look at the number of food miles when calculating the environmental impact of food. People argue that it is environmentally more sustainable to grow tomatoes in Spain than the UK because it is not necessary to heat greenhouses. It is also argued that it is better to grow rice in a tropical country like Vietnam than trying to grow it in the US. To look at a food’s entire environmental impact from planting to eating is known as life cycle analysis.

BBC – Food Miles

Land grab in Africa – the Guardian


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90,000 Miles! The Astonishing Distance your Christmas dinner travels to your plate – Daily Mail Article

Food Miles: Don’t go the Distance – BBC article

Food Miles: Does Distance Matter – Independent article

Do Food Miles Make A Difference To Global Warming – Reuters

How the myth of food miles hurts the planet – The Guardian

 4. Environmental consequences of air increasing volumes of air freight

environmental-effects-freight-focus from this full report:

Environmental consequences of air freight –  The Guardian

Organic food air miles are catastrophic – The Telegraph

“Food miles are not a reliable indicator of environmental impact.” Discuss this statement. [15 marks]

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