Oatmeal: rolled oats
Oatmeal manufacturing involves harvesting, washing, steaming, and hulling the oats. Quick-cooking oats are rolled between cylinders to produce a flatter flake. Once flaked, the oats are roasted and packaged for consumption. Energy, environmental, and human power are all required for this production.
Oats are best grown in geographical areas with cool, wet summers, such as Northwest Europe and even Iceland.
Oats provide excellent soil erosion control because of their dense coat. These outer coats also help prevent buildup of many destructive organisms (disease and pests) which reduces the need for the use of expensive herbicides. Oats also require less tillage/plowing for seedbed preparation, which further helps prevent soil erosion. For humans and animals, oats are a heart healthy, whole grain food that lowers risks for heart disease.
It takes approximately 5,000 miles for rolled oats to end up in my oatmeal bowl in the morning for breakfast.
Processing raw sugar into refined sugar involves a highly energy-intensive process, specifically with the use of boilers that use large amounts of heat to break down sugar cane juice.
Sugarcane is best grown in tropical and subtropical climates like Brazil, India, Thailand, and China which are located in the Northern hemisphere.
The cultivation and processing of sugar produces negative environmental impacts through the loss of natural habitats, intensive use of water, heavy use of agro-chemicals, discharge and air pollution. All of which leads to the decline of healthy wildlife, soil, air, and water in areas where sugar is produced. However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is currently working with a wide range of stakeholders (farmers, processors, food and beverage producers, traders, investors, and industry specialists) to develop sustainable sugarcane cultivation and processing. Like WWF, General Mills is also dedicated to the sustainability of sugar production. Since 2014, they have slowly switched over to using sugar beets instead of sugarcane, and by the end of 2020 they hope to solely use sugar beets to sweeten their products. Sugar beets are resource sensitive and environmentally friendly in comparison to sugarcane. This switch will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality, and contribute in positive ways to climate change. And the best contribution is that you can’t taste or see the difference.
It takes approximately 4,500 miles for sugar to end up in my afternoon chocolate bar.
BBQ Chips: potatoes
Potatoes are harvested using a spading fork, plow, or commercial potato harvester that digs into the earth, grabs hold of the plant, and shakes off the access soil. This process requires energy and human resources. In addition, in order to store the potatoes, refrigeration is required using more energy.
Potatoes are most commonly grown in the state of Idaho, followed by Washington. They seem to grow better in light soil, like volcanic ash because of its rich supply of minerals. Idaho’s rich volcanic soil is ideal for growing potatoes.
The production of potatoes involves a harvesting process called tilling or plowing. This process has great potential to damage the earths’ soil. The primary purpose of plowing is to turn over the upper layer of the soil so that fresh nutrients can be dispersed throughout the ground. However, plowing increases soil erosion and impairs water infiltration and soil health, ultimately impacting the environment.
It takes approximately 2, 294 miles
for potatoes to end up in my BBQ chips at lunch.