in a land far far away, there lived a little apple tree. One fine day, it blossomed and bore fruit. Beautiful, red apples. When the apples were still teenagers, a farmer picked them, rubbed them with wax and packed them into plastic crates. These crates were then packed into a cold storage unit and shipped across stormy oceans. It was a long, long journey, lasting over a month. But the apples kept looking flawless because they were covered in wax and living in cold storage. However, this was not the environment that the apples were used to. They were cold and wanted to wilt, but the plastic and cold prevented them from doing so.
The apples were miserable – they were far away from their home, the tree, and there was no end in sight – they just kept travelling. They grew increasingly tired and old. One blessed day, the journey ended – or so they thought. Their crates were unloaded and packed into large trucks, where they suffered another few days of draining journey.
By now the apples were exhausted. They had no strength left. When they were unloaded, they were packed into another cold storage unit, awaiting their turn to be sold. Finally, one day, their crate was opened and the apples were taken out and put on display.
Sunlight! Good, strengthening sunlight! The apples rejoiced, but alas! It was too late for them. The long hibernation in the unnatural cold and the endless travel had stunted all their natural processes and goodness. However, they still gleamed with seeming health.
Now, their neighbours in the fruit stall were some smaller, greener looking apples. These apples didn’t look as good as them – they had a few spots and didn’t gleam. The apples got talking. The gleaming apples described their horrendous journey. The smaller apples were stunned – “You look so beautiful! It is hard to believe you have been so badly treated!” The gleaming apples showed the smaller apples how they were sweating in the heat as they couldn’t adapt to it after the months of cold storage. They described their aches and pains and how they were unable to enjoy the goodness of the sun after being shut for so long. The smaller apples blessed their lucky stars that they had been picked just a couple of weeks ago in a place called Himachal, packed straightaway into comfortable hay-lined crates and then transported to this city. Sure, they suffered a few bumps along the way, but at least they were healthy!
Just then, a person walked up and started lifting the apples one by one and examining them. This person looked at the smaller apples and then at the gleaming apples. He smiled at the gleaming apples, and said,”How beautiful! I will take a kilo of these.” The gleaming apples sighed in relief. After more than two months of being stored and transported, they would finally be eaten! The smaller apples smiled and wondered about a world that took into account only looks, but not vitality while choosing food.
Moral of the story: Look (and think) before you eat! Look at your food, but don’t depend only on your sight. Find out where your food has come from. Food miles define how long your food has travelled before coming to your plate. Food miles not just lower the nutritive value but may also leave a large environmental footprint, depending on how the food has been transported. Locally grown food is better than food that has been transported over longer distances. Buying from your local subzi bhaiya is better than buying from a supermarket (supermarkets add another couple of weeks in cold storage as they tend to bulk buy).