Your Cravings, Year Round: Costs of Shipping Groceries Around the World

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 1:41 PM

The focus of this term project in this course is to decide whether or not there are positive or negative economic effects of shipping and packaging food for the United States around the world. Upon initial research on the topic, evident categories come into play that give immediate response of negative perspectives on the subject such as fuel pollution and costs, packaging safety (formaldehyde in packaging crates), etc. After further research I ran into an article that opened my eyes to something that I had not considered previously: shipping groceries around the world not only costs less for packaging and production, but a lot of food in the United States is from international countries to supply us with the consumables that might not be accessible year round.
An article found online posted by the New York Times titled Environmental Costs of Shipping Groceries Around the World and where export fruit and vegetables come from when they are not in season in the United States. The article states that “Consumers in not only the richest of nations but, increasingly, the developing world expect food whenever they crave it, with no concession to season or geography” (Rosenthal, New York Times, 2008). This immediately made me think about all the fruits and vegetables in our community grocery stores that would not be accessible had they not been shipped from international exports. With the ability to import and export consumable food also comes a price that directly plays into our theme of this course: “pollution – especially carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas – from transporting the food”.
The article also notes that the fuel for international freight is not taxed due to a long standing trade agreement, but “now economists, environmental advocates and politicians say it is time to make shippers and shoppers pay for the pollution”. The topic is still up for debate as many people continue to work on transportation plans that “make more sense” since the food shipment and production creates jobs, low fees, and more food supply around the world. Transportation of food has also allowed major corporations to boom and grow as their food reaches more people around the world.
With every action there is a reaction and it is important to weigh the benefits and the costs for the greater good and to see these actions as long term to take note on the toll this plays on the world. This topic of food transportation benefits is important to examine in the research of economic benefits and costs of global food packaging and transportation. 
For more information and explanation please visit the article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/26/business/worldbusiness/26food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

The image below is from the same article describing it as “The Sanifrutta Company in Italy ships kiwis from its plant in Costigliore, Saluzzo, traveling by sea in refrigerated containers”:

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