Zero KM Food is a production and sales philosophy that combines pleasure and knowledge for eating. It brings advantages for environmental and human health and increases employment and savings for consumers and the public purse, through savings in oil, which represents 35% of product distribution costs.
The 0 KM philosophy – or KM 0 as it is also known – promotes ecological foods with a maximum of one day’s delay in reaching the point of sale or the table. Food is produced near to the consumer’s place of residence, or at a maximum distance of 100km, to preserve freshness and quality.
The proximity between production and consumer represents an important contribution to improving the environment and stopping climate change.
This initiative was spearheaded in 1986 by the Italian gourmet Carlo Petrini in Bra, a town of only 30,000 inhabitants in Cuneo province, in the Piedmont region, paving the way for 0 KM.
0 KM is associated with Slow Food, which aims to highlight the fast pace of modern daily life, in which people barely sit down at the table and increasingly turn to fast food.
Working against the trend towards ‘a world of universal flavours, in which the traditions of each country, region and even of each population are not respected,’ this movement has gradually been extended to more than 150 countries and currently unites nearly 90,000 members.
Going beyond eating for eating’s sake and to satisfy a biological need, it is about knowing what you are consuming; how natural and healthy it is; and in particular ‘preserving national traditions threatened by the invasion of foreign fast food’; promoting local sustainable development and harmony with the natural environment. The project has a universal scope – involving producers, families and localities – and requires governmental and institutional support and a clear determination for sustainable development.
It ensures appropriate land use and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, through varied traditional agricultural practices and cultivation and appropriate livestock management techniques.
Similarly, it improves air quality; reducing product transportation, as well as saving energy, reduces PM10 emissions. These dust particles generated by motor vehicles are so small that they pass through nasal filters and cause serious damage to health.
Alongside savings in storage and fuel costs, direct selling reduces the use of containers and packaging and also minimises residual waste in a production chain that is unnecessarily long, particularly when it involves international transportation.
Local producers also reap significant benefits, incentivising bigger, better, and more varied yields, through access to a local market.
They would be the ones to decide on prices, which tend to be lower due to the elimination of middlemen and other costs of the production chain needed to reach the shop floor.
Products are given a particular stamp showing their provenance; this generally corresponds to a family business, means of production, origin, nutritional characteristics and other aspects, which optimise their appeal to consumers and at the same time bring agricultural and traditional value to the area.
One thing is certain, zero kilometre shopping reduces food waste when compared with traditional systems.
This is the conclusion reached by Coldiretti, an association of direct producers, supported by 2017 data from Ispra (the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research). The entity explains that food waste is between 15% and 25% among those who shop in direct agricultural systems; whilst for those who shop traditionally it is between 40% and 60%.
Supplies from Coldiretti are fresher, last longer and avoid long distance transportation, with the resulting air pollution caused by combustion engines.
Comparative data from this organisation shows that a kilo (kg) of cherries from Chile must travel nearly 12,000 km – representing 6.9kg of oil consumption and 21.6kg of carbon dioxide emissions – to reach tables in Italy.
The principles that support 0 KM production fit well with a circular economy.
Both methods are based on efficient production and low carbon emissions, as well as the creation of growth and employment opportunities and optimal use of energy and water resources, which are so important to agriculture. At the same time, they ensure recycling and the reduction of waste and loss. (PL)
(Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay