Newsletter 31 : 6/7 - FOSSIL FOOD
Our food economy is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Industrial agriculture uses vast amounts of petroleum-based pesticides and fertilisers. Enormous amounts of fossil fuels are also used for food processing, packaging, refrigeration, transport and retailing.
The fuel blockades of 2000 showed how much our food distribution systems relies on oil. Within days of blockades by farmers and road hauliers at refineries and fuel depots, the 'fuel crisis' was threatening food stocks, supermarket shelves were rapidly emptying and supermarkets began rationing sales of bread, milk and sugar.
The heavy reliance of the UK food system on fossil fuels makes it our single largest consumer of fossil fuels and largest source of greenhouse gases. It accounts for over twenty per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Growing and producing food accounts for roughly one quarter of the food system's emissions (e.g. fertiliser, fuel for tractors etc). Half is from the transportation of food (from farm to processor, processor to supermarket and from supermarket to home) and one quarter from the processing and cooking of food.