Eating Green: The Impact of Food Miles and Production, Meat and Veggies

The journey from farm to table has costs at every turn.
Oct 6, 2014 4:30 PM ET

In the 2012 documentary The Fruit Hunters, there’s a shot of the produce section of a grocery store. The camera pans across an expanse of fruit-laden tables, all piled several feet high with apples, pears, potatoes, and much, much more. “Abundance,” the narrator intones.

The incredible abundance spotlighted in this brief scene is an achievement of the modern food supply chain, a sprawling, complex structure that spans the entire planet, yet is largely unseen by consumers. Most of us only encounter the literal fruits of this marvel, taking for granted that we can get bananas, kiwis, and lettuce at any time of the year, no matter where in the U.S. we live. This is, of course, unnatural. It’s the result of relentless engineering and optimization, the industrialization of food made possible through technology, logistics, and scale.

The whole thing begins with the farm...