Cafe Society

Foodtubes: a very underground food movement proposes really fast food

While food is necessary for survival, the energy waste involved in the delivery of food is anything but. Now the U.K.-based Foodtubes Project thinks it has the solution: a system of underground food-delivery pipelines powered by air pressure.

Foodtubes estimates that its delivery system, which mimics the way water, gas and sewage is transported, could reduce annual CO2 emissions by 8 percent. (Although that sounds great, who wants a food-delivery system compared to a sewage system?)

According to a PowerPoint presentation on the project, the cargo capsules that would carry the food weigh 2 percent of what a delivery truck does, and would use just 10 percent of the energy. Trucks waste 92 percent of their diesel fuel just getting to where they need to be, Foodtubes adds, and only 8 percent delivering the actual food.

Foodtubes proposes a 930-mile circuit under London that would connect all major food producers to retailers. Thirty to fifty of the capsules would replace one truck, and with as many as 900,000 capsules in circulation at any given moment, that's a lot less traffic. (The presentation notes that 180 times more water than food is transported each day, with much less pollution and no traffic.) The system would be able to deliver under any weather conditions, and the capsules would zoom around at about 60 mph -- "really fast food," reads the project tag line (cue rim shot).

Resistance will come in the form of freight- and food-industry bosses who have stake in keeping things the way they are, Foodtubes acknowledges. But if adopted worldwide, the company claims, the system would prevent one to four billion metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year.

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Kyle Garratt
Contact: Kyle Garratt