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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 31, 2010

Is Eating Local Best? Perhaps Not

By Mark Sisson
75 Comments

There are many within the Primal community, I know, who also like to eat local. Some months, of course, allow for the confluence of these priorities more than others. Right now, we’re at the height of harvest season. Farmers’ markets are overflowing, CSA boxes are brimming, and backyard gardens are gratifyingly bountiful. Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end. In a few short months, farms and gardens will be snow-covered in many parts of the country. If you live in balmy Southern California like I do, that’s not much of an issue. If you live in Minnesota or Maine, it is. We Primal types love our produce, and winter complicates that relationship for some of us. Must locavore-minded Northerners relegate themselves to frozen and canned vegetables for several months of the year? Are root vegetable remnants really the only acceptable fresh produce before the spring thaw? Last week I stumbled upon a guest editorial in the New York Times that took on the nagging locavore guilt trip.

The author, Stephen Budiansky, personally embraces eating local. He happens to tend an impressive garden and even raise sheep. Although he freely acknowledges the many culinary benefits of eating local, he’s got some words – and numbers – for those who preach the environmental angle of locavore living. The crux of his argument revolves around the total energy expenditure for the agricultural sector in the U.S. – and the comparatively small role of transportation in that equation. Budiansky first goes after some allegedly fuzzy calculations that have been thrown around within the locavore and environmental communities. One claim he assails: the common assertion that it takes “36 (sometimes 97) calories of fossil fuel energy to bring one calorie of iceberg lettuce from California to the East Coast.” This oft-quoted bit is a load of hooey, he says. The number, a misguided comparison to begin with, actually reflects the total energy expenditure invested in that head of lettuce from the time it’s planted to the time it’s served. Since it only requires “about a tablespoon of diesel fuel to move one pound of freight 3,000 miles by rail,” transporting that lettuce is practically inconsequential in the grand scheme of production and consumption.

Budiansky doesn’t end his argument there. He submits other statistics to quash the transportation guilt that troubles locavore-minded consumers everywhere. Citing Department of Energy analysis, he contends that the concept of food miles is a red herring. Whereas shipping constitutes approximately “14 percent of the total energy” used within “the American food system,” consumers’ activities account for some 32 percent of that pie chart, and that doesn’t include the trip to the grocery store and back – the real haulage hog. Once we get the goods back home, Budiansky says, we’re running up the meter to store them and prepare them in our individual (i.e. inefficient) facilities. Touché. (Maybe the guy’s got a point there.)

Budiansky spends the rest of his editorial illustrating a larger perspective on American agriculture. Although today’s farms are responsible for supplying three times the populace and exporting ten times the product, he explains, total farm acreage is essentially the same as it was in 1910. Growing and raising food where it most flourishes, he says, makes the most environmental sense. Not only does it save us additional soil erosion, added chemical usage, and vegetable greenhouse heating costs, it spares countless acres of land for wilderness. In other words, geographically suitable trumps the proverbial “sustainable” message that circulates through the locavore movement.

Readers of Budiansky’s article questioned his sources, and he happily offered them up in a follow up blog post. Yes, there are plenty of gaps in Budiansky’s presentation. For one, environmentalists would argue that transportation’s impact isn’t simply measured by diesel use but by added pollution. And his assessment doesn’t take on the more substantial energy expenditure of importing food from as far away as China or South America. On another note, it takes additional energy to refrigerate produce and meat during transit.

Nonetheless, I think, Budiansky presents good food for thought. While the spirit of the eat local movement encourages positive changes in communities (e.g. supporting small-time area farmers and locally-based businesses) as well as better eating choices (e.g. wider variety, fresher and more nutrient dense produce), the practice eventually hits up against a reasonable limit. My point here isn’t to debate the benefits of regional economies, the environmental impact of small versus larger farms, or the safety issues surrounding imported food. There are plenty of solid arguments to be made within the full spectrum on these issues.

For me, Budiansky’s editorial offers useful perspective, and I always love seeing these kinds of conversations fully played out. As someone who wants to maximize nutritional benefit in my diet, I buy local items when they provide the freshest and thus most nutrient dense options. In the winter months when local harvests are sparser (even here), I happily take advantage of modern technology and trade to buy what I want to maintain a healthy diet. I don’t go out of my way to purchase the farthest flung imported items, but I’m not going to wallow in guilt either when I feel like eating bell peppers in January.

Eating Primally is foremost a commitment to your personal health. It’s about optimizing your diet and other lifestyle choices to cultivate genuine wellness and disease prevention throughout your lifetime. Nonetheless, going Primal doesn’t have to discount other priorities in the social and environmental realm if they’re important to your personal values and lifestyle choices. I think the big picture comes together differently for all of us, and the PB offers a surprisingly versatile outline for our personal, cultural and value-based preferences.

Along that vein, I believe the most interesting point in the locavore discussion was actually mentioned by a reader in her response letter to the Times. Characterizing the locavore movement from a different angle, the reader described the “holistic approach to the plate” that locavores ultimately hope to achieve. The food miles concept isn’t a red herring. In fact, it’s not even the central point, according to this reader. Transportation is too often part and parcel of a much larger issue with food, she suggests. When it comes to food related energy expenditure in this country, she says, the real elephant in the living room is our taste for processed, packaged and prepared foods. She cites her own statistic (from the Dept. of Agriculture) to reveal that nearly 58 percent of food related energy expenditures comes down to the “processing, packaging, transportation, wholesale and retail, and food service energy use that locavores are seeking to avoid.” The real difference, she suggests, is made by rejecting the manufacturing of food products to begin with. A “real locavore,” she says, wouldn’t touch a Twinkie with a ten foot pole even if it were made down the street. According to this reader, “eat real” food is as much or more of the locavore message as “eat local” is.

Have your own thoughts on the locavore perspective? Share those comments, and thanks for reading today.

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75 Comments on "Is Eating Local Best? Perhaps Not"

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Hannah
6 years 30 days ago
“According to this reader, “eat real” food is as much or more of the locavore message as “eat local” is.” This is what resonates with me most. I am wholly supportive of my local food system, buy my produce from the farmer’s market when things are in season, and buy 90-95% of my meat from local sources (and have my own chickens for free-range eggs!). I think supporting your own local food producers is extremely important, because it lets them know that you are interested in what they are doing. The more we buy from them, the more likely it… Read more »
Hannah
6 years 30 days ago

Hey I was first! That never happens 🙂

Chris at Lost Arts Kitchen
6 years 27 days ago
There are so many issues the NYT editorial ignored. + Food that’s grown locally with care is far more nutritious & tastes better than food bred to withstand the rigors of shipping and grown in depleted soils. + By getting to know the people who raise our food, we serve as highly self-interested inspectors. + By supporting local farmers, we help increase our community’s food security, enabling us to withstand potential world-wide shortages and prepare for the end of cheap oil. + Eating with the seasons teaches us to accept putting off our desires, an important lesson, and to enjoy… Read more »
Christine Crain
6 years 30 days ago
This is exactly how I feel as well. My husband and I have family that raises grass fed, pastured beef. We know a local pastured pig farmer, and a farm just down the river produces all of our poultry. In the summer we get our fruits and vegetables from them too. Come summer though, we have some of the summer bounty frozen, canned or pickled. But once in a while you get a hankering for an avocado, or god forbid a fresh cucumber. I’m totally on board with just going out and buying those things. Buy local when you can… Read more »
FoodRenegade
6 years 30 days ago
This is also how I prioritize my food purchases. The biggest pluses to buying local to me are: 1) benefits to the local economy 2) supporting small farmers and becoming friends with them 3) fresh, unrefrigerated food (tomatoes taste SO MUCH BETTER if they’ve never been refrigerated) 4) the environmental benefit (Not so much food miles/transportation, but rather knowing *how* the farmer farms. Unfortunately, supermarket labels such as “organic” don’t tell you much.) That said, I don’t hesitate to buy bananas year round (the kids LOVE them and they’re great in smoothies), coffee, Australian wines, chocolate, coconut, and the occasional… Read more »
David Grim
6 years 30 days ago
Mark, I was just thinking about this issue today. I live in Minnesota and know that in a couple months most of the fresh vegetables and fruits that are available now at farmers markets will be out of season. I want to eat better and eat local but what if I want some blueberries in January? Do I only eat what would be seasonally available in my particular area? I think that I am going to adopt your philosophy and eat the best food that I can all year round. Otherwise I would be eating pemmican all winter and waiting… Read more »
Anon
Anon
6 years 30 days ago

I agree. I live pretty far north and I buy locally in the summer but when winter comes I still eat the best food I can (organic ideally and often from california and florida).
As far as the berries go fresh berries are great but you can freeze the farmers market ones and still use them at times in the winter….although the effects of running the freezer could be debated.

Primal Toad
6 years 30 days ago
I live in Michigan and buy as much local food as I can today. I still enjoy avocados year round and coconut as well even though those never grow in Michigan. I picked blueberries about 6 weeks ago and will have enough to last through the end of the year and into the first half of next year. Same with peaches. I purchased half a 100% grass fed cow a few months ago and when its gone I will buy another one to last through the year. I plan on going hunting in November and I do plan to kill… Read more »
ShannonPA-S
ShannonPA-S
6 years 29 days ago

The Michigan strawberries are fantastic. Small and juicy. I only wish they were around for more than a month or so! 🙂

Krys
6 years 30 days ago

I try to eat as much local produce as I can, but in the winter months in the Pacific Northwest, that would mean potatoes, onions and turnips. I tried that last year through a CSA and was not a happy camper. So this year, I am accepting that I will have to use a grocery store in the winter months, and it’s ok if the produce comes from further away. I’d rather enjoy my meal times instead of dread them because I’m going to eat another turnip!
Grok on!

Sue
Sue
6 years 28 days ago

That’s funny, we had a truly atrocious CSA last winter too and we’re in the Pacific Northwest. It *should* be possible to have greens in the winter here though, if your CSA is on the ball. I wish ours had been. We’re hoping to be able to harvest our own kale at least for this winter. Even in colder climates, it’s possible, though not easy, to have a four-season harvest. I’m also thinking about doing rotating trays of micro greens under lights one of these days too.

shannon
shannon
6 years 30 days ago

I read that editorial too. What I took away from it was that the best things you can do to reduce your food carbon footprint are: (1) make a garden and grow as much as you can at home; (2) get an energy efficient refrigerator; (3) cut down on multiple trips to the supermarket and farmer’s market, for example by shopping only once a week; (4) cook outside, using sticks that you find in the yard, instead of electricity or gas.

rob
rob
6 years 30 days ago

Most of the stuff I eat doesn’t grow well in Florida, not much in the way of a brussel sprouts crop. I rarely eat citrus, cane sugar is out of the question and you can only eat so many strawberries.

Kelda
6 years 30 days ago

Although there is an ‘energy cost’ using an extra freezer to freeze the glut produce during the summer and autumn can allow you to continue to eat locally for at least some of the winter, and often the glut produce is pretty cheap too – says she eyeing her heavily laden plum tree; there is no way they will all be eaten fresh (green faced emoticon!)! Last year I made jam (but that was pre-Grok) several lbs of sugar isn’t a great idea!

Allan
Allan
6 years 30 days ago

Here’s a pretty harsh review of that Budiansky article. Definitely worth reading.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kerry-trueman/the-myth-of-the-rabid-loc_b_689591.html

Piscator
Piscator
6 years 30 days ago

Worth reading if you want to realize the locavores can be nearly as rabid and judgmental as many vegans.

Allan
Allan
6 years 30 days ago

I did mention that it was a “harsh review” of the article. The criticisms seem to be valid though.

And one of her main points (in fact the title of the article) is that locavores aren’t all rabid and judgmental. The reason she’s upset in her reply is because of the “…dishonest misrepresentations and tiresome stereotypes about the eat local movement.”

Piscator
Piscator
6 years 29 days ago

That’s actually the first negative thing I’ve ever read about the movement. It seemed the editorial was more about not justifying the locavore movement by trying to argue the shipping cost angle.
I like the idea of buying local foods, just for the nutritional value and to support organic methods.

DocOne
DocOne
6 years 29 days ago

I was interested at first, but the article lost me at “At a time when global warming is SURELY[emphasis mine] fueling fires, floods, and drought all over the world” Obvious agenda there. Next.

ArcticBear
ArcticBear
6 years 29 days ago

Thanks for spotting that misinformation. I don’t think the article is worth reading if the author stoops to that.

piano-doctor-lady
piano-doctor-lady
6 years 28 days ago
I concur with the Huffington Post review of the article. That New York Times article reminded me of an article I read which purported to prove that a Prius used more energy than a Hummer. Self-serving, bogus talking points making false comparisons and mis-identifying his opposition. There is so much wrong with the American food supply and with industrial agriculture. 1. subsidized cheap carbs, which have to be highly processed before anyone could eat them without gagging. Grown in ways destructive to land, water, air, and genetic diversity. Monocultures, huge machinery. 2. long transportation distances, so that fresh food is… Read more »
unchatenfrance
unchatenfrance
6 years 30 days ago

I don’t get too serious about the whole eat local thing. I live in Canada, for crying out loud! I buy and eat local when I can, but am I supposed to avoid things like coconut products, olive oil and coffee just because there are no coconut or olive groves in Ontario? Don’t think so. Buy local when you can and avoid processed crap and otherwise don’t sweat it.

Carla
6 years 30 days ago

As a fellow Canadian, you took the words right out of my mouth!

Cheryl
6 years 30 days ago
Eating locally doesn’t mean you can’t have items out of season – buy in bulk when items are in season, then freeze, dry, or can them for use in the winter. that’s how our ancestors made it through. I grew up in WI, and we canned the fruit from our trees, froze berries we bought in July, and kept root vegetables in a root cellar. We also kept some apples and pears in the root cellar also. This may be more work than some might prefer, BUT, if you want to eat well, I guarantee the taste of the food… Read more »
Charlotte
Charlotte
6 years 30 days ago
A newcomer to the PB diet (this is my first full week and so far, so good!), I too like the idea of buying local fruits and veggies as much as possible, though I also am not limiting myself to it 100% of the time either. There is a convenience factor – the best source and pricing for local products is a market clear on the other side of town in a direction I hardly ever travel. My solution: I try to go once every couple of weeks and load up my cart to last until the next visit. I’ll… Read more »
Herbwifemama
6 years 30 days ago

The best way to eat local is to garden. And in the winter, those in Maine (and elsewhere) don’t have to be relegated to the root cellar. Just read the work of Eliot Coleman. http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/

A winter garden is probably not possible for us this winter, but after building some cold frames, I hope we can next year.

Mike Wootini
6 years 30 days ago
I’m not completely buying this. First off, the energy footprint numbers seem slanted. In my experience, I happen to live in a town where the majority of the people ‘walk’ or bike to the farmers market, Coop, butcher, and grocery store. If they are driving, they are coming from a 1-2 mile radius. So I have a hard time envisioning the added energy footprint at least in my community. Second, that some places are better suited to grow things over others. Sure, for things like pineapples, avocados, or other exotics – these things don’t grow locally for me – ever.… Read more »
DJ
DJ
6 years 30 days ago

Looks to me like there are a lot of “quasi-Groks” that can’t live without their veggies in the winter. Get out your Paleo pressure canner and put up a few dozen pints of produce, eh?

Hannah
6 years 30 days ago

Grok didn’t have a pressure cooker or freezer…

DJ
DJ
6 years 30 days ago

Couldn’t they borrow one from the Flintstones?

Primal Toad
6 years 30 days ago

Here we go again…

Did grok have a computer? Internet? Airplane? Car? Phone?

No, no, no, no, no. Do I or have I used all 5? Yes. Same with thousands of other things… Stove, Oven, Slow cooker, etc.

Jim Elwell
Jim Elwell
6 years 30 days ago

Budianski’s take is interesting, but a more thorough economic approach can be found here:

http://www.thebigquestions.com/2010/08/23/loco-vores/

Eric
Eric
6 years 30 days ago

Great link and great website in general.

I would also add Matt Ridley’s site http://www.rationaloptimist.com to the list for those interested. (Buy the book too!) I think this fits in nicely with the PB given the rationality of the lifestyle in general, the positive message, and focusing on what the data tells us – not opinions or biases!

Michael
Michael
6 years 30 days ago

Thorough? Not the word I would use to describe it. “Naive” is where I would start. Price doesn’t equal value. Economic utility is not an accurate measure for social, environmental, biological well-being. Economic costs are externalized or absorbed from other realms. Thats why prices are not good indicators of true cost or value.

The other of that blog post could learn a lot from Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing.

Piscator
Piscator
6 years 29 days ago

Naive it was not. It was concise and perhaps didn’t elaborate to the extent needed to contradict your beliefs. I have a feeling those beliefs wouldn’t be changed by any amount of logic.

Michael
Michael
6 years 28 days ago
Feel this: Try me. Is it not possible that the price consumers pay for certain goods does not include all the costs in the production of that good? Is it possible that sometimes other agencies partially subsidize the production of certain commodities, causing the price of that good to be artificially low? Is it possible that part of the production costs of goods could be reduced by externalizing those costs into other realms (e.g. pollution). Is it then possible that prices might not be a precise tool for measuring the TOTAL value of a good? Your turn. My beliefs are… Read more »
Piscator
Piscator
6 years 27 days ago
Ahhh, good response. Yes, I will grant that there would be some lowering of costs to the producer due to subsidies. And since you bring up the cost of externalities, then no price is ever going to show the whole cost – you’d have to include the opportunity costs such as your time in going to the market to buy stuff. In that same regard, the price isn’t going to show all the benefits, such as your time saved by not having to farm and purchase equipment as well as the benefits of growing in an area already set up… Read more »
jenella
jenella
6 years 30 days ago

I’ve started buying what I can at the local farmer’s markets for 2 reasons…it’s typically fresher and I believe in keeping my money as close to home as I can.
If I can’t find it there, I have no qualms of buying it ‘imported’. 🙂

CNYmicaa
6 years 30 days ago
Funny, I was at a local restaurant yesterday who mainly sells food made from local sources. There was a flyer on the wall for a locavore challenge of eating one day a week for a month, only local products. That would probably not be all that hard for me here in CNY, being that my pork is already purchased from a local Amish farm, and I mainly eat venison (self obtained) or Salmon (husband obtained). I guess I could pay some attention to where exactly my chicken comes from besides Wegmans! Seriously we have a huge harvest right now, my… Read more »
Dan
6 years 30 days ago

Very interesting post. I know that New Zealand (where I am from) can export their Dairy, Lamb and Beef products to Europe and the USA with less carbon emissions, and for cheaper, than local farmers in Europe or USA can. So this shows just how efficient it can be when you grow products in areas that are well suited to them.

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[…] Original post by Mark Sisson […]

Farley
Farley
6 years 30 days ago
I live in Chicago and grow my own veggies this time of year (it took our tomatoes until last week to ripen!). Foods like brussels sprouts, squashes, avocado, and sweet potatoes are staples in our house year round. We grow our own, buy local when we can, and make due in the winter with what the stores have to offer. That said, I do plan to experiment this winter with living more like Grok and with my environment, because I am privleged enough in this country to do so. In other parts of the world, people are lucky if they… Read more »
jerry
6 years 30 days ago
Yes, Grok didn’t have canners, freezers, and many of the conveniences we have today. But you also have to remember that grok also moved around a lot. Basically, he always went where the food was. Today we all have things such as jobs that keep us from being able to live a nomadic life chasing down our next meal. One of the conveniences we do have now days is being able to bring the food to us. I agree, buying local is better as much as you can get away with doing it, but not everyone lives in a place… Read more »
tim_lebsack
tim_lebsack
6 years 30 days ago

Some fellows with PhD’s in economics discuss the subject –
http://cafehayek.com/2010/08/locavores-are-loco.html

Kara
Kara
6 years 30 days ago

A good response to this article is found here: http://www.ethicurean.com/2010/08/22/math-lessons-for-budiansky/ .

I try to eat local most of the time, or at least seasonally. For me it has to do with greater taste, supporting local economy, making sure my food options don’t just come from one place (food security issues) and it’s just healthier. I also appreciate the environmental reasons, but understand that any system in our day and age often comes with environmental negatives.

I just thought the response I linked to was good.

Michael
Michael
6 years 30 days ago
Environmental issues is just one piece of the local food movement puzzle. For me the biggest reason I aim to buy and eat local is the politics of it all. In this day of a global food system there is an international food fight going on and not everyone is playing by the rules. When Big Ag makes the rules “Unconventional” farmers and growers struggle to survive while keeping their “alternative” values and integrity intact. Fortunately I (and every other citizen of the world who eats) get to play referee. While I tend to view the local food fight as… Read more »
tim_lebsack
tim_lebsack
6 years 29 days ago

Americans have the option of minimizing or eliminating the politics you speak of.

Michael
Michael
6 years 28 days ago

Your right, but it is not just Americans with influence. Everyone who has choice over what they eat has some sort of power. And it is not just power from voting with your dollars. Systemic change is possible through community organization and social activism (collective power).

Michael
6 years 30 days ago
The eating local article by Budiansky misses most of the point of why I buy local. The locally grown fruit, vegetables, eggs, goat cheese, and grass-fed beef just tastes better. When someone can pick it that morning perfectly ripe and ready it tastes better. Why does the beef taste better or just as good as store-bought prime? I don’t know, but it does. The eggs I get from the farmer is feeds his chicken stuff from his garden don’t even look like the eggs at the grocery store. It was a good article for Mark to post and discuss since… Read more »
Paul C
Paul C
6 years 29 days ago

That is a good point. Taste is one of reasons this type of eating is easy to stick to. I also like helping local farmers here in Wisconsin. I’m willing to spend more also, as a way to vote for this way of eating, so that eventually everyone will be able to eat this way.

Harry
Harry
6 years 30 days ago

Thanks Mark. As usual, a common sense approach. Living in Sacramento, California, I buy mostly fresh, local food. I have no guilt when I buy things from outside the Sacramento Valley.

Lisa
Lisa
6 years 29 days ago
My eating “local” (I am a member of 2 CSA’s – meat and vegetables) has almost nothing to do with politics or the effect of “food-miles” on the environment (really, foodmiles? can we pick a more insignificant factor in food production?). It has to do with the excellent quality of the food from small farms and the connection to the people that produce. They are only de-facto “local” because they do not have the scale to export it. I happily give up eating “local” when I am guaranteed that the food I receive will be of the same quality. For… Read more »
Supersellen
Supersellen
6 years 29 days ago

+1

debbie_downer
debbie_downer
6 years 29 days ago

Grok didnt care about the environment so I am not going to worry about having my steaks and coconuts driven or flown in from a few thousand miles away.

I like my Kobe Beef. What should I do, get a second job delivering pizza or driving a taxi so I can buy carbon credits to offset my guilt of not being a localvore?

Mark if you wanted to support my effort to cook what grows in my backyard, lets have some dandelion and thistle soup recipies!

Andy
6 years 29 days ago
I came to a decision on the local thing a long time ago, after debating the “support your local brewery” thing endlessly in craft beer circles many years ago. Basically, I think of my support in concentric economic circles: I like to support the local guy; when that’s out of the question, I like to support the regional gal; when that misses, I try to support the national player; when that doesn’t work, I try to support the international player. In those larger choices, there’s some deliberation to who to support (I tend to prefer producers who make good stuff… Read more »
Deborah
Deborah
6 years 29 days ago

Ok, maybe this is completely unfounded and irrelevant, but I wonder if eating things from your own area (and I’m talking about genetic origin, not temporary residence) could be better for you than eating imported food? and perhaps the opposite – are coconuts really good for someone originally from a nordic country? Is is possible that our genetic makeup is adapted to where we live? Just like fair skin absorbs vitamin D better than darker skin, perhaps there’s a similar link to food.

Just a thought.

Michael
Michael
6 years 28 days ago
Short answer, yes. It is pretty much the same idea as the PB philosophy: eat things your body is designed for. But as for variation among populations, that is trickier to support without speculation. I feel one good example of this is world population’s tolerance to lactose. In this case historically pastoral societies digest lactose better. There are varying degrees of lactose tolerance ranging all the way to zero. That is just one food type but I think it illustrates that it is possible that certain regional populations can be better adapted to certain foods than others. There is a… Read more »
p14175
p14175
6 years 29 days ago

I live in Az where vegetables and fruits are grown year-round.

I would buy local, but the produce market down the street that sells fruits and vegetables brought in from all over the world is — cheaper.

piano-doctor-lady
piano-doctor-lady
6 years 28 days ago

If the producers abroad can grow the food, pick it, pack it, ship it to AZ, and STILL have it cheaper than local, how can they do that?

The logical conclusion is that they don’t have to abide by U.S. minimum wage standards or food safety regulations, such as pesticide rules.

You never get something for nothing. If it seems to you that you are, someone else is paying the price.

Angelina
Angelina
6 years 29 days ago
I buy 25kg of 100% chemical free grass-fed beef and 20 kg of the same in lamb per month transported from about 10 hours away because I cannot get it anywhere else. I can get plenty of pumpkins locally when they are in season and try to get what else I can fresh or local. But I have to get my coconut, coffee and cocoa imported from elsewhere [albeit organic] but they just don’t grow them in Australia. I am currently trying to get a garden going to grow some green vegetables, they are so hard to get where I… Read more »
Gal @ Equally Happy
6 years 29 days ago
A few things. 1. This is one man’s study. While I do respect his work, there’s also a volume of work for the other side. 2. Even he says there is a small amount of fuel used to move produce. What does it matter if it’s small or big? If I can save it and get better quality food that way, why wouldn’t I? 3. Keep in mind that the fuel costs of modern agriculture aren’t just in the transportation. Fertilizer, refrigeration and harvesting are also big components, and one which this article seems to ignore. I’d much rather buy… Read more »
Neil
Neil
6 years 29 days ago
I agree that only eating local is not necessarily great. Eating the right foods will ultimately use less energy because we will be healthier! Think of all the energy expended in our healthcare systems because of poor eating habits (research and manufacture of drugs, hospital infrastructure, bypass surgery, etc). If everyone ate real, good food despite where it came from, perhaps that would lower our total communal energy use. You have to think about food energy on a larger scale, taking into account the energy expended on the consequences of our eating habits, too. This is one of the most… Read more »
Katelyn
Katelyn
6 years 29 days ago

I’m glad to be Zero Carb and not think about what fruits/vegetables are seasonal. I just go for grassfed or organic meats and Kerrygold butter, and that is my plan.

ColoGrassFed
ColoGrassFed
6 years 29 days ago
I started our Locavore eating three years ago with concerns mainly about energy usage. As we’ve been eating this way for three years now, it’s really about the Food! The quality, the flavor, the freshness, the freedom from worry about contaminants and recalls. Supporting your local farmer. Spending your money in a way that benefits your local community. You as the taxpayer are ALREADY supporting the commodity foods: soybeans, wheat, and corn; and they’re coming back to you as fast food, junk food, transfats, high fructose corn sweetener. Yes, we drink tea and coffee, we use olive oil (California), we… Read more »
Cupboard Love
6 years 29 days ago

I eat local when I can. But like I said in my Real Food post (http://chymerikaen.com/2010/08/real-food/), eating an apple grown in New York is still better than eating a Kraft macaroni and cheese meal made in a factory only three hours away from my house.

Neil
Neil
6 years 29 days ago
Forgot to mention… I get all my seasonal vegetables from an urban farm that delivers weekly to my work through a CSA. The urban farm was started as a jobs creation program for local low wage workers. Not only can these farmers now provide for their families, but there is a renewed sense of community between the farmers, their families, and the buyers here at work. The farms are designed as a learning tool for the children and a sustainable business for the adults. In this regard, the value of the farm being “local” — actually IN the city —… Read more »
Jeanmarie
Jeanmarie
6 years 29 days ago

You fell for Budiansky’s contention that locavores care only about being local! As though no one else noticed that it’s a complex issue and that food miles don’t tell the whole story. I heard him on NPR a few months ago trying to stir up controversy on a panel, but as soon as the other panelists corrected him on the above issues, he had very little to add to the dialogue.

Trey
Trey
6 years 28 days ago

We eat locally produced food – protein and vegetables – not because of transportation issues but to avoid all the processed junk out there. Our lives have changed for the better – and it tastes better too.
I have found that you have to watch some items. I recently found a case of tomatoes at a local farm that was shipped 300 miles to get here. No problem except they had chemicals on the fruit to preserve them. Next day went to the Farmer’s Market and got fresh, chemical free produce.

Terry
6 years 28 days ago
Hello all. I am a total advocate for eating local and a localized market in general. But not for energy foot prints or anything like that. 1) I believe that the food that grows locally is all that Grok had to go on and I belief that the food that is available in that season and in that area are what the animals (including us 2 legged ones) need to best cope with the climate and the terrain and other elements in that area. It seems logical right? It was only possible for Grok to eat what was around right?… Read more »
Clack_Attack
Clack_Attack
6 years 26 days ago

Looks like it’s time to boycott the local Farmers Market :]

Marc
Marc
6 years 26 days ago
Most environmentally appropriate food is best you say? Budiansky’s starts down the right path but can’t see the real story here. So the real news story is that the perennial grasslands that supported 90 million buffalo for 10,000 years might be better used as grazing land rather than torn up every year and dumped with chemicals to grown annual crops. Budiansky seems to have forgotten the old journalist anecdote: A high school newspaper teacher is showing his charges how to write a lede. He tells them that Thursday the teachers will attend an all-day off-site training. He asked the students… Read more »
iphone deals
5 years 1 month ago

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Erock
Erock
2 years 6 months ago
He speaks of growing in the best geographical area for the plant is the most efficient way. This while true it seems as if he is saying you should only grow tomatoes, pepper and eggplant and those non frost tolerant crops in the south, and frost tolerant crops in the north: garlic, cabbage family, lettuces etc..I personally am a gardener and there is no reason why I cannot grow non frost tolerant crops in the North when it’s the right season. Starting those plants early inside in a window requires no more resources then it would down South starting them… Read more »
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