What Are Agriculture and Food Carbon and Energy Footprints?

There is a prevalent consumer view that local food consumes less energy. On the surface this view sounds logical. Food from California must cost more in energy than food from Granny Smith Farms 15 miles away. However, what is not usually thought about is energy usage in food is not just about transportation. Looking at the total system view of food reveals that choosing local food may not actually have a lower energy, or carbon, foot print.

The USDA published a study, Energy Use in the U.S. Food System, that looked acoss the whole ecosystem of food, from the agricultural producers to kitchen preparation and consumption by consumers.
How food travels is far more important than how far it goes.[6] Big boats, like freighters and barges, can bring vast quantities of food thousands of miles using less energy per ton than a small truck or car uses to transport smaller amounts of food a few miles. Over land, freight trains are more energy efficient than big trucks, which are more efficient than small trucks.