The Myth of the Green Locavore

You want to eat only “local” food? Go for it. Just don’t tell us about how you’re saving Mother Earth. You’re not.

USA Today tells us that you’ll be able to brag about how trendy you are, but that’s about it. Despite all the hype about your neighborhood farmer’s market and the backyard of the White House, “locavores” are not the environmentalist heroes that they often claim to be:

[Two new books] cite research showing long-distance transportation accounts for only about 4% of the greenhouse gas emissions in food production; most occur at the farm itself through the use of tractors and other equipment and materials.

So if you want to buy local food for its freshness or to support area farmers, fine, but don’t do it to save the planet, conclude researchers […]

But, your inner Mark Bittman will say, these “researchers” must be bought puppets. Nope.

The interrupted sentence concludes, “researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental group.” Yes, that Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that takes its green agenda to the extreme.

Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu, authors of The Locavore’s Dilemma, expand on the research to show that efficiencies in large-scale agriculture help, not harm, the environment:

[L]arge farms growing crops suited to their region are better for the environment because they use less energy per item and grow more food on less land. [Desrochers] says they offer economic benefits, too: lower prices.

We’ve always known that economically, local eating rarely makes sense. It’s generally inefficient and would actually require more acreage on which to farm and more resources to make it work. The fact remains that food choices, “healthy” ones or otherwise, would be severely limited if we opted to only eat “local” food. Needless to say, it would be hard to get much local seafood in middle America.

What other outrageous, pie-in-the-sky plans will locavores think of next to call themselves green saviors?

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