Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is local food better for you ...?


Swept up by Michael Pollan's oratory about his completely local meal, and the neighborliness of supporting local producers at our farmer's market, I have been steadily narrowing my choices down to fresh local food and feeling good about it. Trust Tyler Cowen to burst that bubble for me with the following post, which explains that depending on how that kohlrabi was conveyed to market, it may or may not have a larger carbon footprint than the organic food from Chile.

Aargh. And now I recognize that the appeal of eating local was as much about solving my paradox of choice than anything else--I like the idea of cooking with what's available, what's cheap, and what's abundant instead of putting together menus from scratch, and that's pretty much all there is to it. It's convenient--because it cuts through the data smog. And perhaps that's all the reason I need for now. That is, until I read the next book on my list, which is Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ....

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I've been ignoring your post for a few days now, primarily because I got into the local foods movement in the first place because I don't want to pay the carbon costs of importing food from Chile. However -- having read the article, I've decided to take it with a grain of Portland Sea Salt (staying local, of course). Too many coulds and mights in the article to make it convincing, and Tyler Cowen has no credibility for me (and if I don't investigate his credentials, I'll remain ignorantly in bliss).

Also on the "however" list... in Maine (which I realize doesn't speak for the rest of the world, but there is that old saying... what happens in Maine happens in the nation), local farmers have the capacity (because of scale) to farm completely organically and commit to limiting their own carbon footprint in production. Could very well off set the transportation costs.

And my final however... the neighborliness of supporting the farmers market is nice -- providing a strong market to the farmers is even better for contributing to the economic base, enabling more farmers to commit to environmentally friendly standards.

Will you blog about the Kingsolver book when you're done. I'm curious -- never having liked anything by her other than the Poisonwood Bible. But, it is one of my favorite topics.