Thursday, August 6, 2009

Get Local: Beyond Food Miles

One sure sign that a movement is gaining steam is the amount of backlash it generates. I think it's good to give a thoughtful, reasoned critique of any idea or social movement --- unfortunately, it seems that most of the anti-local-food rhetoric is neither thoughtful nor reasoned. (which, incidentally, posted "It's easy to be generous with other people's money" as their featured quote the day I visited their website) recently posted this article slamming "locavores."

The Appalacian Sustainable Agriculture Project posted a wonderful response, called "Beyond Food Miles," on their blog. You can (and should) read the article in its entirety, but I especially like their points about why buying local food is helpful - above and beyond saving food miles:

1. Eating local food supports farm job retention and creation in your community.
2. Eating local food supports jobs in the farm supply/support sectors.
3. Eating local food preserves and forwards your local rural culture and history.
4. Eating local food sustains unique varieties of fruits, vegetables, and animals, bred to be hearty and productive in your region.
5. Eating local food helps to keep working farmland from being further developed, which gives your region more open space, wildlife habitat, and natural beauty. In some places, this draws tourists and further helps the economy.
6. Eating local food increases your region's food security and choices in the face of global political conflict which can disrupt food supply.
7. When you eat local food, you support a safe supply being in place when food safety events or scares shut off the global supply of a food item.
8. Eating local food keeps farming skills alive so they can be passed down through the generations.
9. Eating local food allows you to talk to the producer (or someone who bought from the producer) about their practices, rather than relying on vague labels and marketing claims.
10. Local food is more distinctive to your region, fresher, and better-tasting.

1 comment:

RyanC said...

The Forbes article had some good points, even if they were delivered in a haughty and snarky manner. The economy of scale argument doesn't hold water for the same reasons that the ASAP article gave under the 'when you don't by local' section. The point about eating meat was spot on though. So my theory is that he was pandering to the Forbes audience to get a point across. First he identified with the audience at the expense of the locavore movement and then brought his point home as an insider more likely to be listened to. Either way I thought the ASAP rebuttal made a great point about how (to paraphrase) you spend money is a vote for not just the item or company but the system that produced it.

I've been enjoying your posts and hope that you keep 'em coming.