Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eat Local?

Here is an article that will make the elite "organic" crowd spew out their tofu in frustration. Foreign Policy writes how the "buy local" movement is horrible for the world's poor and not necessarily any better for the environment (or your health) than your standard internationally traded produce.
[T]hese First-World food fetishes are positively terrible for the world's poorest people. If you want to do the right thing, give up on locavorism and organics ├╝ber alles and become a globally conscious grocery buyer. This should be the age of the "cosmovore" -- cosmopolitan consumers of the world's food.
The article goes on to discuss how genetically modified (GM) crops are not the horrible, unsafe perversion of nature that many on the left (and Europeans) make them out to be. While arguing they may not be a "panacea," the author correctly points to their possible current and future benefits.

Additionally, the article blows holes in the accepted wisdom that eating locally actually helps the environment. It states:
For example, it is twice as energy efficient for people in Britain to eat dairy products from New Zealand than from domestic producers. It is four times more energy efficient for them to eat lamb shipped from the other side of the world than it is to eat British lamb. That's because transporting the final product accounts for only a small part of the energy consumed in the production and delivery of food. It's far better to eat foods from places where production itself is more efficient. For example, New Zealand cattle eat clover from the fields while British livestock tend to rely on feed -- which itself is often imported.
The bottom line is that (global) trade is good. Economies of scale, which are often the result of international trade and improved technologies (GM crops), help both the environment and the poor—the latter by providing jobs and supplying cheaper food. Those that profess otherwise seem to widely out of step with their supposed enlightened aim of helping humanity. While anyone is certainly entitled to spend their personal money as they choose, they should at least be clear regarding their motivations and effects. The "eat local" and "organic" trends are a luxury that can be afforded in many Western countries; they are not noble solutions that positively address the global problems that many who live these lifestyles purportedly want to solve.

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