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'Food miles' debacle leads to buy-NZ campaign call

1 July, 2003
'Food miles' debacle leads to buy-NZ campaign call

The Green Party is calling on the Government, food producers and retailers to promote a coordinated buy-New Zealand food campaign, focused around the theme: 'it's fresher, better and environmentally sensible'.

Ms Kedgley has discovered that a basket of 21 mostly fresh foods from two local supermarkets, collected last week, had collectively travelled an astonishing 214,611 kilometres from all corners of the globe to get here.

"As one of the great food producing nations, it is absurd that so much fresh food is being airfreighted or shipped from all over the world when we produce an abundance of fresh fruit, meat and vegetables right here." Green MP Sue Kedgley said today.

"We should be buying New Zealand-made fresh food wherever possible and supporting our local producers." The Green Party wants strong Government backing for the Buy New Zealand Food campaign and for mandatory country of origin labelling for food, so that consumers can find out where their food comes from.

"A lot of imported produce is unlabelled. The only way we could figure out where much of the food we bought came from was by asking supermarket attendants and, for some items, we couldn't track down the country of origin even after numerous phone calls to distributors."

"This is totally unacceptable," Ms Kedgley said. "Consumers have the right to know where our food comes from. Many people buy products including meat and vegetables, assuming they are locally produced, completely unaware they have been transported into New Zealand from across the world. That's why the Green party is campaigning for country of origin labelling for food."

Ms Kedgley calls the distance imported food products have travelled to get to our tables 'food miles'. "These food miles come at a huge environmental cost. Airfreight is one of the world's most polluting forms of transport. It is a major contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change, and relies on the extravagant consumption of fossil fuels," Ms Kedgley said.

"Imported food can bring with it biosecurity hazards that threaten our native and farmed flora and fauna. Poisonous pests like black widow spiders have arrived here on Californian table grapes, while produce from fruitfly-infested Queensland could devastate our horticultural industries if it carries larvae across our borders.

Ms Kedgley said the further fresh food travels, the more its nutrient content deteriorated. And none of the imported produce she picked up was checked to ensure it was free of excessive or illegal pesticide or antibiotic residues.

Ms Kedgley has a basket of 21 brightly coloured imported food products which could make a great photograph, or would be happy to go to a local supermarket with a reporter/photographer.


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