Sampling the local-foods debate

A recent post, “The Eat-Local Backlash,” has stirred up some good conversation over on (thanks to BALLE for tipping me off to the blog entry). I encourage you to read both the post and the comments to sample the debate that is emerging over the local foods movement.

The author addresses specific efforts to debunk the claim that shorter distances between food and plate — “food miles” — mean fewer carbon emissions. The commenters take the discussion in numerous other directions, including whether it is better to buy local non-organic versus non-local organic or whether it is immoral to stop buying food from impoverished African farmers in favor of growing and buying locally. I agree with the guy who writes:

“I do think we’re going to be seeing more and more clashes over competing ‘goods’ (reducing carbon emissions and alleviating poverty).”

Speaking of the local-foods movement, the blog author thinks the visible criticism it is getting now in places like the Economist and NY Times is a good sign:

“Just as you’re not really famous until you’ve been rumored to be gay or on drugs, a movement hasn’t come into its own until it’s drawn a formidable entourage of detractors.”

Just getting high-profile media to openly examine the tradeoffs between localized and globalized food economies is indeed a sign of progress. I am optimistic this argument will expand into a much broader mainstream conversation around the merits of turning to local producers for not just food, but for an increasing share of all the goods and services we consume.

August 27th, 2007

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