Saturday, January 24, 2009

Things begin to come to light

I was surprised the other morning on my way to Berkeley to hear our local CBS radio affiliate feature a story, with good background info, on the recent findings of Pepsico about the environmental cost of their Tropicana Orange Juice.

Apparently Pepsico's British affiliate assessed the footprint of one of their products, and when the manager who spearheaded this moved to the U.S. he led a plan to have an outside agency do the math on several key Pepsico products.

One half-gallon of Tropicana o.j. is responsible for 3.75 lbs of CO2.

But then there's the interesting part. 60% of that is a result of growing the oranges and making the juice. 58% of that 60% - more than one third of the total CO2- is due to what Pepsico in their press release calls "grove management" - a lovely euphemism for making and spreading the huge amounts of synthetic high nitrogen (from natural gas) fertilizer required for high yield orange mono-cropping.

Whatever Pepsico calls it, the cost of industrial agriculture is beginning to be revealed.

I wonder if the results of this will encourage or discourage other food manufacturers from risking a little transparency?

Back to the KCBS story - they had a UC Davis ag chemistry prof comment on the story. She talked about organic; but she also talked about the wonderful things we can grow in California without big synthetic fertilizer N inputs. Let's hear it for TOMATOES!

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