The distance we'll go for a good meal

Birds await their fate at the Willie Bird Turkey in Sonoma, Calif.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: Here's something you might think about before you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner: Where did the food come from? Today, the food we eat is transported from all corners of the world.

In a new book, author Sarah Murray takes a look at our "Moveable Feasts." Sarah, how is food transportation affecting the global economy?

Sarah Murray: It's having a huge impact. We're really sourcing food from everywhere you can think of. It's changing economies both here and overseas. If we can now get products from places like Africa, that has made a huge impact to countries like that. At the same time, of course, there are the worries that we've had recently from China and other places with the contamination of foods. So we have to think much more carefully about safety regulations and protecting our food supply.

Jagow: Yeah, obviously that's got to be one of the chief concerns right now. Are we gonna reverse coarse here and start trying to produce more food ourselves, so we don't have to worry about this?

Murray: Well, that's what a lot of people might say. But on the other hand, if you look at some of the food scares, a lot of them have actually, they're not as well-publicized, but a lot of them come from local producers that are producing in the U.S. So transportation per say is not the problem here, it's regulating the producers of our food.

Jagow: One of the big issues right now is sustainability, the carbon footprint, and everybody's pointing to transportation as one of the main culprits. What did you find when you went around the world in terms of where the environmental impact is coming from with food?

Murray: When you start to look at agriculture, you find that the emissions from that industry are vast -- whether it's feed stocks for cattle or farm machinery, all sorts of energy is used in processing food. Once you start to look at that, you realize that actually, the transportation is a relatively small part of that. And in fact what one should be really looking at, if we're talking about trying to lower the carbon emissions of our food supply, is looking far more broadly at the sustainability of food production as a whole. That might mean that some food could be produced locally and it would be more sustainable, but it might also mean that sourcing food from somewhere where farming prices are more sustainable could be a better option.

Jagow: Sarah Murray. Her book is called "Moveable Feasts." Thanks for joining us.

Murray: Thanks Scott, it was great talking to you.

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