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Study: 'Food miles' are environmental myth

MONTREAL, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Buying locally grown food does not necessarily help the environment, Canadian researchers in Montreal said in a report published Tuesday.

The Montreal Economic Institute said the trend toward buying locally grown food to reduce carbon emissions by trucks is misguided based on U.S. studies that show production is responsible for 83 percent of food-related greenhouse gases while transportation produces just 11 percent of total emissions.

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Pierre Desrochers, an associate professor of geography at the University of Toronto in Mississauga who co-authored the report, said economies of scale have to be better considered.

"California can produce strawberries almost year-round, far more efficiently and with lower quantities of inputs such as fertilizers," he said. "(Two and a half) acres can produce 10,000 pounds of fruit compared to only 1,500 to 2,000 pounds in Ontario. We have to recognize that some locations are more favorable for producing certain crops."

The report also said the myriad car trips families make to buy small amounts of groceries are also a significant source of greenhouse gases.

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