Ingredients for a typical Christmas dinner may have travelled 30,000 miles from producers and growers to the UK dinner table � damaging the environment and undermining local economies, Euro-MP Caroline Lucas warned this week.

The Green Party MEP for South-East England said that our European turkeys, African vegetables, Australian wine and American cranberry sauce will have notched up enough ‘food miles’ between them to circumnavigate the globe.

Dr Lucas, who is a member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee and author of the influential 2002 report ‘Stopping the Great Food Swap’, said the international trade in locally available produce was damaging the environment – contributing significantly to the aviation industry’s greenhouse gas emissions and monoculture farming, local economies – and the enjoyment of fresh, tasty, seasonal food.

“Ingredients for a traditional Christmas Dinner are in season in the UK right now – that’s why they’re traditionally eaten at Christmas! There’s simply no need to eat mange tout from Zimbabwe, runner beans from Zambia or carrots from South Africa,” she said. “African farmers are paying a high socials and environmental price for switching traditional production to inappropriate cash crops geared for western markets, but seeing few of the financial benefits.

“By eating locally grown produce we can enjoy fresher, tastier food, support our local economies – and cut out some of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the aviation industry as it flies all these vegetables around the world.” Some Christmas facts and figures:

• 200,000 trees are felled each year to supply the 1.7 billion Christmas cards sent annually in the UK.

• 40,000 trees are felled to make the 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper we use – enough to wrap Guernsey!

• The UK throws out three million tonnes of extra waste over Christmas

• Ten million turkeys are bred each year for UK Christmas consumption – most in dark cramped conditions • Almost six million Christmas trees end up in UK landfill sites every January.


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