Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Planes and Automobiles

Today is Transportation Day for No Impact Week. I was planning to ride my bike to work, but things went awry, inadvertently creating a perfect example of why people end up driving in their cars way too often.

I had forgotten I had to drop something heavy off three miles from my house, in the opposite direction from work, before going into the office. Okay, I thought, I'll drive that over, then go back home, leave the car, and take my bike.

But by the time I got to where I had to do the errand and then talked to the people there for a while, I didn't have enough time left to get home, head off on the bike, and still get to work on time. So I joined the parade of cars on the highway instead.

Back of a pickup truck full of vegetables, two men sitting with their feet in the veggies
On a broader transportation topic, I wanted to share an article from today's Star Tribune, No Way to Market, Kenya's Produce Waits and Wilts. Aside from stranding jetsetters all over Europe, the Icelandic volcano has also grounded planeloads of Kenyan vegetables and cut flowers that normally are sold in upscale European stores.

Horticulture is Kenya's top export and generator of foreign currency, and they've been losing $3 million a day, waiting for the ash to clear. According to the story, "Two million pounds of fresh produce is normally shipped out of Kenya every night. Eighty-two percent of that goes to Europe, and more than a third goes solely to Britain."

Much of the produce is rotting or being fed to animals because its buyers (grocery story chains in Europe) don't want anything with their name given away to hungry people for free. Huh. According to the New York Times version of this story, at least some of the unpackaged produce is being given away to orphanages.

As the crow flies, Nairobi is the same distance from London as New York. That's a long way to fly roses and baby zucchini.

But who am I to talk. The only garlic I could find at the co-op yesterday was from Argentina, which is even more distant from Minnesota than Kenya is from London.

And is any of this any odder than the idea that several hundred people had to cancel their appearances in the Boston Marathon because they couldn't get a flight out of Europe? What will it take for the huge number of people who fly somewhere at the drop of a hat to change their habits?

1 comment:

Ms Sparrow said...

What? No garlic? That's my favorite seasoning. Things are getting serious!