March 16, 2008

Food- Beeline: Food Miles cont.

Beeline is a food distribution system concept for fresh produce in the Northwest Pacific coastal region, designed to support local economies while cutting out the wasted money and transportation commonly associated with getting produce from farmers to retailers. By creating an online virtual marketplace for connecting farmers to retailers, Beeline optimizes food transportation energy by "carpooling" pickups and deliveries in a region and provides a robust information system for auditing each shipment's energy use. The system significantly reduces miles traveled and carbon emissions, eliminates warehouses and facilities, provides equitable markets for local food, and educates customers.

A database provides a web-based interface for farmers, retailers, and customers to learn more about each other, and combines social networking with education. Clients' user accounts that go into further detail about food miles, carbon emissions, and opportunities to coordinate pickups and deliveries with other participants in a way that further optimizes the system. In addition, retailers are provided with printable point-of-purchase graphics that educate the customer about the farmers, their farms, and emissions data specific to that shipment.

By analyzing the multiple pick-up and deliveries scheduled at any time, Beeline is able to design the most optimal route for trucking. This is the key to Beeline's overall energy efficiency, and we maintain a detailed database of the day-to-day performance of this system. The system conserves energy and passes those savings on to its clients.

Beeline not only informs the system but changes it as well. Knitting information into product technology, it's built as a service business and system design. Merely localizing food systems is insufficient; local distribution has to be done with maximized efficiency. As the UK's DEFRA report points out, food tonnage can increase when moving towards localized food systems if food items are transported inefficiently. Beeline's system allows us to eliminate waste: wasted miles and wasted labour, as well as wasted space in warehouses and inventory. Ultimately, it enables us to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions associated with food transport and support long-term food security and economic vitality.

(check out the links on the right side)

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