The New York Times this morning had an interesting OpEd piece about buying local. A new study from New Zealand states that, when considering the entire life cycle of a product, and not just the transportation portion, some products that have traveled many miles may produce lesser emissions than products grown locally. The study focuses mainly on dairy products and compares New Zealand to the UK, though it seems to be extrapolated across other food sectors as well.
This continues the on-going discussion about which actions we should take to minimize our impact on the environment. There are many components, other than transportation, that need to be taken into account. However, for the time being, transportation is an easily quantified component that can be compared across products. Until more detailed studies, such as the New Zealand one, come out and clarify the other pieces of the puzzle, it is still a good yardstick by which to measure environmental impact, albeit a temporary one.