Today I received an email from YiXin – a Singaporean wine importer – who operates his business with a strong environmental focus.
In his email, YiXin brought up an interesting point: “Transporting food (and drinks) over great distances is damaging, and I wonder where the balance is between reducing the number of food miles and the type of farming practiced.”
I agree. Food is not simple. From field to fork, you have to balance many factors – land, water, natural resources, but also various social, political, and economic realities. If we just take a look at Singapore: it produces only 5% of the food it consumes. The government is working with local farms and business to increase its production of local produce, but with the challenges it faces – manpower, cost of land, climate – the transportation of food is a necessary reality.
So, if we need to get our food from somewhere – where is the most eco-friendly place to look? Conventional farms from our close neighbors? Organic farms from the other side of the world? When it comes to making our food choices, which is more important – how it’s grown or how it reaches your plate?
In terms of choice, for all of Singapore’s natural disadvantages, we are actually in a very privileged place! Few realize that we have a wide variety of produce grown organically (or under strict guidelines and with very little pesticides) right here in Singapore and from our neighbor Malaysia.
Some great farms to look at for buying your plant food are: Zenxin, Green Cirlce and Fireflies. You can order on-line delivery, over the phone or go to the farm directly to pick up fresh produce ( and chat with a farmer :) You can also find a lot of locally grown and produced goods in supermarkets, read the labels and look for “Produced in: Singapore”.
I really like Nature’s Glory because their website allows you to shop by region. You can actually shop by carbon miles!
As for the rest of it – the food that we can’t grow or make – It’s important to understand where it’s coming from and to choose to support great business who’s practices in turn support a healthy planet and people. You can meet a lot of these passionate people at the Farmer’s Market. They make or import food (real food) and love to talk about where it comes from!
Now, for the bigger issue of feeding 8 billion in a sustainable way – I leave that to the experts!