Local Food Activism Is Bogus
The hot new trend in holier-than-thou political activism is local food. The idea is that local food is healthier and more economically sustainable because it is organic and doesn’t have to be shipped on big trucks or trains that emit carbon.
In fact, there’s an international trend supporting the movement called community-assisted agriculture that gets some pretty heavy subsidies. Here in my backyard a local vegetable co-op is receiving tax dollars from the state. There may be other projects in the state, and nationally First Lady Michelle Obama (who famously started a vegetable garden at the White House) has made her job to “urge Americans to provide fresh, unprocessed and locally grown foods to their families and to the neediest in their communities.”
In Berkeley, the local Occupy Wall Street movement took over a UC Berkeley agricultural research farm to create a “solidarity garden” to provide local foods to their community.
Now, I don’t have a problem with organic foods so much (though I question a lot of the claims made by the proponents of organics) or with those who prefer to buy their food from local sources. I don’t even have a problem with local food co-ops, if that’s what people want to do, absent taxpayer subsidies and land theft. But this notion that local food is somehow better food is bunk.
As Pierre Desrochers, author of The Locavore’s Dilemma, points out in this interview with Reason’s Nick Gillespie, there’s a reason why the world stopped relying on local food.
The idea of local food might work well in California, where there is a local food supply available year-round, but in more northern climes like North Dakota it doesn’t work so well. Foods, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables, don’t grow here in the summer. What’s more, you’re never going to feed heavily urban areas like New York or Los Angeles strictly on local food. You cannot grow enough food local to those communities to feed everyone.
Modern economies developed lengthy food supply chains because doing so meant more food selection. More secure food supplies. Safer foods. Healthier foods. Better prices.
Some would argue that we’re fat, as a nation, because we aren’t eating enough local food. But there’s not a lot of logic to that, especially when you look at countries like Japan which have very little in the way of agriculture and rely almost exclusively on food supply lines. It’s not the economics of food production that has made Americans fat. It is Americans choosing to live unhealthy lifestyles.Tags: community assisted agriculture, local food, michelle obama, nanny statism, occupy wall street