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Food for thought

Op-Ed Contributor - Math Lessons for Locavores - NYTimes.com:
The best way to make the most of these truly precious resources of land, favorable climates and human labor is to grow lettuce, oranges, wheat, peppers, bananas, whatever, in the places where they grow best and with the most efficient technologies — and then pay the relatively tiny energy cost to get them to market, as we do with every other commodity in the economy. Sometimes that means growing vegetables in your backyard. Sometimes that means buying vegetables grown in California or Costa Rica.


RTWT, and shut up about your "locally grown" foods. This bacon is from Iowa, and I'm going to enjoy the HELL out of it.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
wombat_socho
Aug. 20th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
This is no shit: I owe a good part of my weight loss to the conscientious consumption of PORK and pork products. I and a friend are seriously considering writing the Iowa Pork Board to inform them of this and encourage them to use this as a marketing tool. :)
willow_one
Aug. 20th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, responsible localvores have been doing that for a long time, and it's a misunderstanding of the movement (mostly caused by people who joined late/because it was a fad without understanding it.) Some foods can't be efficiently grown in Minnesota, to the point where they have a lower net carbon footprint to grow them where they grow best and ship them. But then there's considerations like taste preferences and wanting to support local farmers. Simply eating the cheapest food because it's the cheapest is no way to go through life (an area in which I greatly disagree with my parents.)

But if an item IS available locally, and the local option represents the best carbon footprint? Then there's no excuse to not at least make an attempt to stay local. (Note: I understand there are reasons, such as price considerations, why people would end up not going local even when it's available. But if it's affordable, and it's accessible, why turn your nose up at it?)
wombat_socho
Aug. 20th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
I'm indifferent to the whole argument from carbon footprint grounds, as you know (or could probably guess) but I do agree that if local farmers are turning out quality food they should definitely be supported. A lot of the supermarket chains in my neck of the woods buy their produce locally, for that matter, and of course dairy is pretty much a local - maybe regional - monopoly. I also agree that the cheapest food is not necessarily the best, although if you can combine quality with low cost it's a serious win.
willow_one
Aug. 20th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what other term for 'carbon footprint' to use though since it's become such a universal phrase. Even if tomorrow all the climate scientists came out and said 'Oops, we wrong, global warming not caused by humans/not happening' I'd still think the option that does the best job of balancing human needs with preserving animals and the environment is the best choice. A policy of 'families not fish' has gotten us where we are, consuming and consuming until we'll reach a point where we have neither families OR fish if things don't change. I mean, really, what have we got to lose by being environmentally conscious? A handful of dollars?

Every food item has a multitude of choices behind it: Do I buy local, or is there sometimes a better non-local choice? Do I buy from a small farmer's market, or a big chain store? Am I just picking whether to put the small farmer or the struggling chain store clerk out of a job? Do I want my money to stay in the community or am I okay with it being schlepped off to the pockets of a big business several states away? Can I afford to worry about someone else's job security/health insurance, even if I'm broke myself? If one honestly spent all their time analyzing EVERY question, they'd probably never eat again, so we do the best we can.

And the people who say "I'm eating a big side o' chain raised veal just because I like to show you hippie environmentalists off!" are every tiny bit as obnoxious as the "Meat is murder! If you haven't gone completely vegan, then none of the efforts you've made count AT ALL!" crowd.
wombat_socho
Aug. 20th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
On the other hand, the generally miserable state of our fisheries might have more to do with the tragedy of the commons; I notice (mostly because of an ex-GF who is a marine biologist) that fish farms are doing just fine, and so are fisheries where fishing rights are auctioned and enforced. I agree that it's definitely possible to over-analyze your food choices, though - or any other purchasing decisions, for that matter.

I don't have a problem with people who say "I'm doing X because I think it's better for the environment" so long as they don't tell me "And you suck for not doing it too!" Unfortunately I hear a lot of the latter from the green movement (not to mention a really nasty streak of coercive behavior), and it turns me off to whatever else they're saying.

Eh, veal's overrated. Now that I can't have it breaded, it's lost a lot of its appeal. :(
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