Because “food miles” allow shoppers to easily identify the most local products, I find the metric itself novel.
Would a requirement to measure and add that metric to food labels ultimately serve our best interests as a country? I’m unconvinced.
A few things to consider as you imagine where “food miles” would fit on the standard FDA nutritional label:
- Regulations add cost to the system where they are applied. I can’t predict that consumers would pay for these labels with shelf price increases. But the label is a “nice to have” versus a “need to have,” making it unlikely to be funded by government or manufacturers. Corporate farming in the US could contribute as could small farms, although the latter would be via the required “donation” to protein marketing funds. There’s no business case for anyone to fund this effort.
- Price and availability not desire drive grocery selection in the majority of American households.
- Why choose a new regulatory path when it isn’t required? If the goal of the effort is to show how far food has traveled, why not revise the existing regulation to show country of origin in larger, clearer typeface.
- The actual benefit to consumers to choosing more local products is unclear. The produce from a farmer’s market is a beautiful thing; it isn’t labeled though. Is a product that travelled 7K miles better than a 11K mile one? That’s a tough call.
While I am always delighted when a retail outlet displays product origin, mandating miles on packaging may be a step too far.