Navigation Links
UCSB localizing fruit, vegetable consumption doesn't solve environmental, health issues

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) To David Cleveland, a professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Barbara, it seemed as though Santa Barbara County would be a great example of what many are advocating as a solution to the problems of a conventional agrifood network a local food system.

Santa Barbara County ranks in the top 1 percent of counties in the United States in value of agricultural products, with 80 percent of that value in fruits and vegetables. Farmers here grow some of the best fruits and vegetables in the country, and organic practices, farmers markets, and Community Supported Agriculture networks are thriving.

Trucking or shipping county produce elsewhere increases the number of food miles, or the farm-to-retail distance. The assumption by advocates is that a local food network would reduce those miles and, therefore, greenhouse gas emissions while improving nutrition.

So Cleveland and his students decided to launch a comprehensive study of just how "localized" meaning what is produced here is also consumed here the agrifood system for fruits and vegetables is in Santa Barbara County, and to try to determine the effects of localization of the food system on greenhouse gas emissions and nutrition. The results of their research, conducted in 2009-10, were recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology ( The research was supported by funding from Cleveland's award as the first UCSB Sustainability Champion in 2009-10.

The researchers found that more than 99 percent of the produce grown in Santa Barbara County is exported, and more than 95 percent of the produce consumed in the county is imported, some of it from as far away as Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand. The study also found that, surprisingly, if all produce consumed here was grown in the county, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions less than 1 percent of total agrifood system emissions, and it would not necessarily affect nutrition.

"Most of what's grown here is shipped out," Cleveland said while standing in a tomato field about a mile from the UCSB campus. "And most of what's eaten here is shipped in. That just seems crazy."

Corie Radka, second author of the study and a recent UCSB environmental studies and zoology graduate, added: "I think that, for people living in Santa Barbara County, it's a privilege that a lot of Middle America doesn't have. We have so much produce here, so much healthy food here, so you just assume there's localization, which results in better nutrition and decreased environmental impact. If that can't happen here, how can it happen anywhere else?

"Other research has shown that direct transport doesn't contribute that much greenhouse gas compared to other parts of the agrifood life cycle," Radka added. "It's called the local food trap. The word 'local' should mean better nutrition, and a decrease in greenhouse gases, but that's not necessarily so."

"Localization per se is not going to change people's access to food," Cleveland said. "So that's why groups like the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County and the Public Health Department provide food assistance and education outreach to try to get people access to food. Just having the local food there isn't going to change people's ability to buy it, or their ability to cook it, or prepare it. Again, it's the food trap. Just replacing imported fruits and vegetables with ones grown in the county, that's not going to do it."

Make no mistake, Cleveland and Radka said, localization is important. But their idea of a localized food system doesn't agree with what researchers heard when they interviewed local grocery store managers, who spoke with pride about their "local produce."

"I talked to a manager who was very excited about his local fruit, Santa Maria strawberries," Radka said. "But he said he got all of his strawberries from the warehouse. I asked him where the warehouse was, and he said that it's not in the county. Turns out it's in the Bay Area. So strawberries from Santa Maria are transported by truck to a warehouse in the Bay Area and then trucked back here to be sold in stores. To them, that's local. There's a lot of evidence that keeping money from sales of food grown in the county is a boost to the economy but, if that's included in your definition of local, then obviously the definition of local used by some chain grocery stores is not adequate."

Going local, according to Cleveland, is just a start. "We have to not let local become the goal," he said. "I think that's the take-home lesson of this study. Local has to be a strategy for getting to the real, bigger goals we have."

For example, according to Cleveland, one important aspect that is often overlooked is the extent to which local agriculture is dependent on imported labor. "Localization of the Santa Barbara County agrifood system may be at the price of de-localization of communities in Mexico and Central America," he said.

Cleveland, Radka, and other students will be hosting a workshop soon to discuss the potential for localizing the Santa Barbara County agrifood system. "We're talking about localizing as a strategy instead of a goal," Radka said. "Our end goal is to decrease greenhouse gases, increase everyone's access to local produce, improve nutrition, and strengthen the local economy and make sure that the localizing strategy meets those goals."


Contact: George Foulsham
University of California - Santa Barbara

Related biology news :

1. Telephone counseling increases daily servings of fruit, vegetables, U-M study says
2. GSU professor develops new method to help keep fruit, vegetables and flowers fresh
3. Women double fruit, veggie intake with switch to Mediterranean diet plan
4. Ozone reduces fungal spoilage of fruits and vegetables
5. Paper mulches evaluated for commercial vegetable production
6. Goji berries have the same nutrients as fruits and vegetables and a placebo effect
7. Consuming vegetables linked to decreased breast cancer risk in African-American women
8. New research: Childrens vegetable intake linked to Popeye cartoons
9. Research promises healthier vegetable oil -- and tractor fuel to harvest it
10. New research suggests choosing different fruits and vegetables may increase phytonutrient intake
11. Solid-state illuminator reduces nitrates in leafy green vegetables
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
UCSB localizing fruit, vegetable consumption doesn't solve environmental, health issues
(Date:11/16/2015)... , Nov 16, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... interface solutions, today announced expansion of its TDDI ... touch controller and display driver integration (TDDI) ... smartphones. These new TDDI products add to the ... resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 (FHD resolution) ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... LONDON , Nov. 11, 2015   ... and reliable analytical tools has been paving the ... and qualitative determination of discrete analytes in clinical, ... sensors are being predominantly used in medical applications, ... and environmental sectors due to continuous emphasis on ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... About signature verification Signature ... identify and verify the identity of an individual ... secure and accurate method of authentication and is ... because each individual,s signature is highly unique. Signature ... signature of an individual is compared and matched ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... Conference in New York on Wednesday, December ... Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> th ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered in ... company has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 of ... for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific office ... Kingdom and Mexico , with the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 ... recent market research report released by Transparency Market Research, ... expand at a CAGR of 17.5% during the period ... Testing Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, ... global non-invasive prenatal testing market to reach a valuation ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... InSphero AG, the leading supplier of easy-to-use ... promoted Melanie Aregger to serve as Chief Operating Officer. , Having joined ... management team and was promoted to Head of InSphero Diagnostics in 2014. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: