Letter: Australian onions should make us cry

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The Independent Online
Sir: Ron Parker, chairman of the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Information Bureau (letter, 15 October), rightly highlights the health benefits of fresh fruit and vegetable consumption; why does he ignore the threat to health of pollution from transport?

The Food Miles campaign is not about reducing our intake of fresh fruit and vegetables; among other things, it is about increasing the beneficial impact by consuming more local (and often fresher) produce, and reducing the health, environmental and social damage of flying around the world and trucking around the country products that we could obtain from next door.

In case Mr Parker has any doubts about the scale of the problem, he may like to reflect on the fact that more than one-third of the increase in road freight in the last 15 years is accounted for by food and drink - a higher proportion than for any other commodity group, and grossly disproportionate for a sector that accounts for less than 10 per cent of gross national product.

Of course we should continue to import bananas and oranges. But the same cannot be said for onions from Australia and raspberries from the US, during their respective seasons in the UK. By all means let us eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. But if we are really concerned about public health, we can and should do so without compounding public health and environmental problems from pollution.

Yours faithfully, HUGH RAVEN Co-ordinator Safe Alliance London, SW1 18 October