Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Far Flung Food: Europe's Distant Diets

Date:
December 11, 2007
Source:
European Science Foundation
Summary:
Across the European Union, food is traveling more, and not always in ways that make sense. Consider the chocolate covered waffle: Last year, Britain both imported 14,000 tons, and exported 15,000 tons. And it is not just waffles that are traveling further, as Europeans are eating -- and importing -- more food from outside the EU than ever before.

Across the European Union, food is travelling more, and not always in ways that make sense. Consider the chocolate covered waffle: Last year, Britain both imported 14,000 tonnes, and exported 15,000 tonnes. And it is not just waffles that are travelling further, as Europeans are eating -- and importing -- more food from outside the EU than ever before.

At a recent conference, funded by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST), scientists and policy makers gathered to consider the problems that face future European food supplies. One important area of research looks at where food comes from, and how that food gets from the field to the fork.

Results, presented at the conference in Budapest on November 5-6, show that food is increasingly coming from outside Europe. "Europe is one of the world's top food importers", says Paul Watkiss, a policy advisor from Oxford in the UK. For example, half all vegetables and 95% of fruit consumed within the UK come from overseas nowadays.

Why are Europeans eating more food from other regions? Watkiss thinks that today's global food market is one reason. "In recent years, Europe has begun to trade with many more developing countries," he says. "These countries have much lower labour and production costs, so can often grow and process food much more cheaply than we can in Europe".

Another reason for changing European tastes is the growth of major supermarkets in Europe. Lidl, Tesco and Carrefour--among others--have sprung up in all European countries. These supermarkets source many of their goods globally and so they are not reliant on seasonal fruits and vegetables. "It is unclear whether supermarkets have changed Europeans expectations of the foods available all year round or whether they are just responding to consumer demand," says Watkiss. Either way, Europeans are eating less local food.

What's more, Europeans are buying more convenience food -- food that is pre-cut, pre-cooked and pre-packaged. These 'ready-meals' often contain ingredients that have been imported from many different countries. Furthermore, the cutting, cooking and packaging of 'ready-meals' is often done in more than one place, resulting in food that is well-travelled even before it is ready to eat.

By studying what Europeans eat, scientists hope to understand the economic, political, and cultural impacts of food on European society.

One obvious impact of Europeans buying food from outside Europe is that it has greater impact on the environment. For example, as food travels more, it has to be protected with more packaging. "This means that, on average, 5% of what we buy in supermarkets is packaging", says Watkiss. Also, greater food transport causes more road congestion, greater damage to infrastructure, and higher emissions of pollutants, including greenhouse gases.

By better understanding the impacts of food distribution on European food supplies, scientists hope to encourage European policy makers to think about how efficiently food is produced and consumed, and the consequences of food traveling further.

The conference was attended by 75 scientists and policy makers from 22 countries and was one of the series of research conferences organised by the ESF-COST Forward Look initiative. Forward Look, a flagship instrument of the ESF, allows scientists to meet people from the world of policy and help set priorities for future research.

This Forward Look is a multidisciplinary joint ESF/COST initiative, which involves the ESF Standing Committee for Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences (LESC), the ESF European Medical Research Councils (EMRC), the ESF Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH), the ESF Standing Committee for the Social Sciences (SCSS) and the COST Domain Committee for Food and Agriculture (FA).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Science Foundation. "Far Flung Food: Europe's Distant Diets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210112005.htm>.
European Science Foundation. (2007, December 11). Far Flung Food: Europe's Distant Diets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210112005.htm
European Science Foundation. "Far Flung Food: Europe's Distant Diets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210112005.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) Two white lion cubs were born in Belgrade zoo three weeks ago. White lions are a rare mutation of a species found in South Africa and some cultures consider them divine. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

AP (Oct. 16, 2014) With hard cider making a hardcore comeback across the country, craft makers are trying to keep up with demand and apple growers are tapping a juicy new revenue stream. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Buzz60 (Oct. 16, 2014) Garfi is one frowny, feisty feline - downright angry! Ko Im (@koimtv) introduces us to the latest animal celebrity taking over the Internet. You can follow more of Garfi's adventures on Twitter (@MeetGarfi) and Facebook (Garfi). Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins