Energy expended to distribute food shipments during a 2-year period to, and within, the United States before their seizure was documented for four distribution modes: ship, truck, train and air. The food shipments were described according to their wholesale value, energy usage per distribution mode, nutrient content, energy/nutrient ratios and violation code(s) of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Results were used to illustrate how this type of study could be used as an administrative tool to develop strategies for avoiding excessive energy consumption during food distribution. Recommendations were made for collecting further data to facilitate reductions in the amount of energy used to distribute human food. Finally, rather ethical questions were raised about the problem of purchasing protein foods from less-developed countries; using energy to distribute them to the United States when they are subsequently declared unfit for human consumption.

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Author notes

1Contribution from the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, Journal Series Number 8501.

2Assistance from Dr. Jessee H. Wheeler, Jr., Professor of Geography, University of Missouri-Columbia is gratefully acknowledged.