|500Foods shared this story from Nature Fresh Farms.|
The Food Miles Definition
You have likely heard the term food miles before, but what it means isn’t always clear, and why it’s important is often overlooked. Food miles help us measure the impact food has on our planet when it travels from the farm to your family. So, by looking at how, when, and from where food finds its way to your neighborhood, we can make sure it arrives in the greenest way possible.
Transportation is the essential link that allows us to deliver the freshest food to grocery stores across North America. That’s why we want to take a closer look at the journey our Tomatoes, Peppers, and Cucumbers take when they travel on trucks from our greenhouse to your house. Let’s get started!
Tracking & Trimming Our Food Miles
To make sure we’re doing good for the planet while bringing fresh food to your neighborhood, we need to keep improving how, when, and from where our products find their way onto store shelves.
The How: Working with SmartWay
Bringing fresh produce from our farm to your favorite stores is only possible because of the Truck Drivers who deliver it with speed, accuracy, and safety. But, while transport trucks are one of the most popular vehicles used to deliver the goods that we all enjoy, there are kinks at this point in the supply chain that need to be addressed.
That’s why, in 2020, we decided to take a big step towards greener transportation by becoming an approved SmartWay Shipper Partner! Recognized across North America, the SmartWay Transport Partnership is designed to help companies reach their transportation goals while making decisions that keep our planet top of mind.
As a SmartWay Shipper Partner, we’ve made a commitment to track transportation data for all the fresh produce we send to stores, including the distance it has traveled, amount of fuel that was used to get it there, and any other important information. When we submit this data to our friends at SmartWay, they provide us with guidance and tools to help us discover new ways to ship smarter!
There is always a better way forward. And with SmartWay on our side, greener transportation will remain a top priority for our team!
The When: Non-Stop Growing
Depending on the time of year, some foods are harder to find than others. And when you do find them, there are often thousands of food miles behind their journey to the store. So, what’s the solution? Greenhouse-grown!
The good news is that greenhouse-grown Tomatoes, Peppers, and Cucumbers can be found in most stores all year long and will often have less food miles attached to their trip from the farm to the store. So, when you enjoy a greenhouse-grown Tomato, whether it be in February or September, you can rest assured that it didn’t travel far to get to your plate!
The Where: Expanding Our Reach
One of the best ways to trim down food miles is by shortening a product’s journey from the farm to its final stop at the store. We had this exact idea in mind when we decided to expand our business into Ohio, Texas, and Mexico!
In 2015, we decided to build and open a 45-acre greenhouse in Delta, Ohio. With this exciting expansion, we started delivering fresh local produce to millions of Americans, not just in Ohio, but also in neighboring states like New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana. With Tomatoes grown close to home during the coldest winter months, millions of people can enjoy fresh produce that has travelled a shorter way to get from our farm to their families.
In 2020, there came another opportunity for our team to expand–this time into the great state of Texas! Opening a Distribution Center in Laredo, Texas with direct shipping options has helped us bring fresher produce to the southern United States. By bringing a Distribution Center closer to our Mexican partners, we can continue to lower our food miles and deliver on quality, fresh flavor, and shelf life.
Our latest expansion – a Nature Fresh Farms greenhouse in Mexico – will work hand in hand with our Distribution Center in Texas to keep trucks loaded and food miles limited. We’re excited to start this new chapter with our teams in Mexico and Texas working together to grow and deliver the best produce possible.
Growing across North America is exactly what we need to do to reduce food miles and bring fresh produce closer to our favorite people: our customers!
Here’s How You Can Have an Impact
We know as well as anyone that the choices we make can have a real, lasting impact. Here are a couple different ways you can keep food miles in mind while shopping and do your part for the planet.
- Buy local – Other than your home garden, nothing has less food miles associated with it than locally grown or produced food! We know that sometimes it just isn’t possible to buy food from your region, but whenever it’s possible to support local growers and food producers, you’re also supporting the planet!
- Buy in-season – Explore what foods are in-season in your area during different times of the year. These foods will have less food miles associated with their journey to the store because they are arriving fresh from the farm more quickly. And remember–greenhouse-grown is always in-season! For some tips on how to cook seasonally during the winter months, check out our blog.