One of my goals for this year was to learn more about my food, where it comes from, what it does inside of my body. While I haven’t read any of the hot books yet, I do read lots of articles online and lots of blogs from people who are more knowledgeable than I am.
I “like” Seacoast Eat Local on Facebook, and they posted an op-ed article from the NY Times called “Math Lessons for Locavores.” Read it because it is interesting and honestly asks some of the questions I have myself. In his article Budiansky, states a plethora of numbers and statistics discounting the impact of transporting food from one destination to another. Since it is an op-ed piece, it’s hard to say exactly how accurate his numbers are, but I think there is probably some truth to what he says. When people become passionate about something, they tend to inflate the truth to support their position and this goes both ways. Just as it is beginning to seem he won’t make a point at all Budiansky says this,
“The best way to make the most of these truly precious resources of land, favorable climates and human labor is to grow lettuce, oranges, wheat, peppers, bananas, whatever, in the places where they grow best and with the most efficient technologies — and then pay the relatively tiny energy cost to get them to market, as we do with every other commodity in the economy.”
Here is what I’ve been wondering. Should we discount science, technology, and progress to revert to the “old way” of doing things? Does it not make more sense to utilize the best parts of country to produce the objects that flourish there? To let people who are knowledgeable (and I’m not saying local farmers aren’t knowledgeable) do what they do best? People who have tons of research and money behind their industry. With our population, we can’t all just move to California or other fertile growing place, and the way my friends are having babies there are only going to be more and more people. I really don’t know the right answers; I’m thinking through writing.
Please understand that I enjoy eating local. I love having my own little garden, walking to my local farmer’s market on Saturday’s, talking to the farmers or their kids. I like eating local because I like eating food from a person I have met in person. I feel much safer knowing that I am eating the exact same eggs that the farmer’s kids are eating. With all of that said, I am not ready to eat apples only three months a year. Our ancestors worked long and hard for us to be able to eat a plethora of foods. If I ate only local, I would never have avocados or limes. Not to mention my precious Clementines in the winter, which offer me these bits of sunshine in the white washed world that is New Hampshire in December.
The main reason I eat local has little to do with saving the environment – hear me out. I care deeply about the environment; I’m just not convinced that the way we are farming (I’m specifically talking here about fruit and vegetables not meat) is what is killing the environment. I understand the benefits of organic farming and think that probably has a bigger impact than where food is grown. Budiansky comments,
“The local food movement now threatens to devolve into another one of those self-indulgent — and self-defeating — do-gooder dogmas. Arbitrary rules, without any real scientific basis, are repeated as gospel by “locavores,” celebrity chefs and mainstream environmental organizations.”
I don’t want to completely alienate myself into one genre of eating.
More and more I feel the need for balance in everything and that includes where I buy my food. I will continue to shop at the summer and winter farmer’s markets, as well as grocery stores. As long as I have space available, I will have my own little garden and maybe someday a few chickens. However, I do not think I will go as far to say that grocery stores or apples from Cali are evil and killing the world as we know it. It seems important to me that we avoid getting caught up on the most current food bandwagon.
What do you think?