Refrigeration and Food

Given the ever-increasing processing and exportation of food, world food is consuming more and more energy by the day: a trend that threatens to send food prices rocketing overnight if not taken in hand. The US food system alone uses over 10.55 x 1015 kJ of energy per year, the equivalent of France's total annual energy consumption. So where does it all go? Considering the amount of energy consumed between the farm and the consumer in the US, agricultural production accounts for only 21% of the energy consumed, the remainder being divided up between transport (14%), processing (16%), packaging (7%), retailing (4%) and restaurants (7%). It is noteworthy that 32% of total energy used is in home refrigeration and preparation. Although agriculture is introducing means to use less energy, fruits and vegetables in Western industrial countries often travel 2500-4000 km from farm to store. Growing sectors such as refrigerated jumbo jets use 60 times more energy than sea transport in supplying northern hemisphere markets with fresh produce from places such as South America, South Africa and New Zealand, according to data from the Earth Policy Institute. The processing of just 1 kg of frozen fruits or vegetables requires 7673 kJ of energy and 5200 kJ for packaging, and then, again, energy is needed for refrigeration during transport, at the store, and at home.