Assessing Apple Transportation in Southwest Michigan as a Method of Analyzing Sustainable Diets
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Greenhouse gas emissions as a result of food production are impacting climate change at an ever-growing rate. If we want to sustain and feed the rapidly increasing human population, be able to improve our health, and ensure nutritious food is accessible to all people, we need to assess and focus on where our food comes from. Michigan (the third largest U.S. apple producer) apples are a contributor to health, food security, culture and economic livelihood. While research shows correlations of decreased cancer and other cardiovascular diseases with the consumption of apples, they have a staggering transportation carbon footprint as a result of being one of the most commonly demanded fruits in the U.S. To understand the impacts, I interviewed, and surveyed different types of apple packing and final retail locations. From the data collected, I roughly estimated the carbon emissions based on distance traveled and found the farm is not always the most cost efficient option for purchasing apples but does decrease food miles traveled. For example, apples from Washington sold in Aldi were the cheapest (generally, there were price differences based on variety) but the highest transportation emissions, where apples sold at Schultz (Mattawan, MI, U.S.) farm had virtually no transportation emissions impact and a low price comparatively. Therefore, a responsible way to consume apples is to purchase inseason produce that was grown in your home-state.