Food Miles In Practice - A Cauliflower Story
8am Wednesday morning, our driver Chris was sat in his van watching Trevor Bradley pull his tractor out of the fields. On the back was this week’s cauliflowers, harvested a mere 10 minutes earlier. So fresh in fact, that by the time Chris arrived back at Kent Veg Box HQ (only 40 miles away!) they were still warmed by the early morning sun’s glow. These Cauli’s will be then turned around by us and used by latest Saturday morning.
This would be impossible for any other supplier to compete with. Supermarkets that take cauli’s from all over the country (and abroad!) would take all their cauli’s and place them in a central distribution hub first, then back out to the supermarkets. This is highly inefficient, as well as a lot of the time, produce is shipped out miles and miles only to end up in a shop down the road from the farm!
In comparison, we make two trips. From farm to us, us to you. This normally means that a single cauli has often travelled around 100 miles total, and for a lot of our customers a lot less.
There has been a lot of talk from us in recent weeks around food miles but we feel that this little story from the other day is proof positive. 72 hours after harvest (at the very latest we might add!) and it’s in your home ready for your latest cauliflower cheese, a vegan curry or whole, oven roasted with paprika. (Click the links for some recipes!)
We also design the delivery routes each week to minimise distance between drop offs. This cuts down on food miles with some of our routes delivering to 70+ customers, and is a staggeringly lower carbon footprint number than if 70+ all drove to the supermarket individually to pick up their cauli for that week. The final step, from supermarket to front door is often cited as one of the least efficient journeys, because even though trips are generally short, the loads carried are small. By engaging in home delivery, we can together help drive down the carbon footprint of our food, especially when combined with a low footprint from farm to us in the first place.
This is also why we can’t offer you a delivery day during the week for your produce, and we have set days for our customers. It may not be as flexible, but other delivery companies allowing you to select a day (not to mention being able to select a time!) cannot possibly ensure that every trip their vans take is maximised to reduce unnecessary miles. This is something, that although may be a little bit more inconvenient we are not prepared to move on.
Further to this, we use Ad-Blue in our vans to further drive down the emissions created by our vans. Electric vehicles are something we are potentially looking at in the future but currently the range the vans have is not quite enough to be efficient. But as the technology grows, we will be looking to make that switch.
From farm to plate, with as little fuss and as small a footprint as possible. That’s the goal. Less miles on the road is better for you, and the environment.