Is buying food online the future, or not?

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Is buying food online the future, or not?

The global pandemic has put the world before epochal choices and transformations. Smart-working is changing the lives of many workers across the globe, just as online shopping has become commonplace among all ages. But there is another fundamental aspect that has changed: food buying habits.

Lockdowns across the world stopped restaurants, fast-food, market, cafe, and shops selling food. There is obviously a downside: on e-commerce sites like Amazon, the demand for the purchase of food and groceries has increased exponentially.

Jeff Bezos has moved quickly to expand Amazon's food delivery services, and to turn Whole Foods' markets into online order fulfillment centers. Here comes the controversial message of Jeff Bezos: he says that buying online shopping is good for the planet.

This is what he wrote to Amazon shareholders in a letter. In a section on Amazon's climate impact, Bezos says that online shopping is inherently more efficient, from the point of view of C02 emissions, than going to a shop.

By buying online, with a simple click, you reduce CO2 emissions. But at what price?

The controversial message of Jeff Bezos

There are pros. The first is a reduced anthropogenic impact on the environment. The convenience of being able to order food from anywhere in the world should be considered, just having a device and an internet connection.

There are no queues at supermarkets or stores, it saves time and effort. But what is the price? Social interactions become even less. For some people, going out and shopping is a pleasure and fun, and also an opportunity to socialize.

In trusted markets, the buyer always knows what he can find and if there are problems with particular products, he can immediately interact with the staff. From an economic point of view, the advent of food e-commerce is likely to destroy many realities, already damaged by the virus before and by the ruthless online competition that they now have.

It will be difficult to counter a giant like Amazon, and this is where Jeff Bezos' message can be interpreted differently. In any case there is always to understand and see what happens to the material when it is transported by the manufacturer to the grocery shop or to e-commerce magazines.

We must evaluate the means of transport and their related CO2 emissions, breeding methods and product quality. If I go directly to a farmer who produces high quality, organic and low environmental impact vegetables, then I am still sure to have a low environmental impact. Therefore clearly buying on site or online should be evaluated from the right angle.