There’s more to locavorism than math.
I hate to cop out here, but this will be another of those posts where I basically point readers to a couple of other posts and opinions. Because the general topic at hand annoys me enough that I can’t really be unbiased.
Short summary: an op-ed piece by Stephen Budiansky in the NYTimes blasted “locavore math,” dissing the movement as “one of those self-indulgent — and self-defeating — do-gooder dogmas.” (I’m like, okay, have an opinion if you want, throw around all the questionable statistics you feel you need to, but is it absolutely necessary to be so condescending and, well, generally pissy about it?) (Plus, dude, way to totally miss the point of locavorism!) He weighs the question of locavorism solely from the perspective of “food miles” and allegedly breaks apart the math involved, demonstrating how locavorism sucks and industrial farming is the answer to producing and delivering the most food to the most people for the lowest amount of energy usage. He also neglects to link to studies or footnotes of any kind to detail his statistics or calculations, which in my eyes makes them very suspect.
Lots of folks are weighing in on this. Elanor Starmer at Grist has a very intelligent post pointing out how energy usage is only part of the locavore rationale; there’s a lot more going on, and a lot more to the question than trucked out of season tomatoes vs. hot-house local out of season tomatoes: “The local foods movement is not so much about choosing between what’s grown here and what’s grown elsewhere. It’s about having any sort of choice at all,” she says. Good article, with a lot of good points. (And it’s followed by a series of other articles on the same topic; click the “next page” link at the end of each article.) Erin at The Green Phone Booth has links to other folks’ takes on it–Arduous and Crunchy Chicken among them. And of course Jill Richardson at La Vida Locavore could not possibly have let this go by uncommented.
Worth a read, all of these. Many important questions being asked and answered. I’d still like to know where the good Mr. B’s statistics are coming from–But I guess that’s part of the wonder of the web, isn’t it? Anyone can say anything?
Except that the Web is dead. Seriously. I read it online.
Except that maybe it isn’t. I read that online too.
Aah, who knows. I’m going to go read a nice novel where I know nothing is actually factual; it’s comforting to not have to wonder.