How Important is Local Eating in a Global World?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

There are a lot of buzzwords that come up during conversations about eating responsibly: organic, local, heirloom. Those terms are typically associated with food that is good – both for us and the earth. (Okay, maybe the organic cheese puffs aren't actually good for us.) But how far does local or organic get us in terms of building a globally sustainable food system? To find out more, we speak to James McWilliams, associate professor of history at Texas State University and author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly. We also speak with Victor Davis Hanson, a former California raisin farmer and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute.

"If the average meat eater gave up meat once a week that would be the equivalent of eating all of your food local."
—James McWilliams, author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly.

Guests:

Victor Davis Hanson and James McWilliams

Hosted by:

Lynn Sherr and Todd Zwillich

Contributors:

Stephanie Hughes

Comments [2]

Ed

This seems like such a reckless premise.

The whole idea of "what locavores get wrong" is destructive and implies people should FORGET everything they've learned about buying local. Instead, why not just ADD the guest's ideas to that knowledge. The goal to increase the knowledge we have when we make decisions.

There is truth in the benefits of buying local, but of course there is also over simplification.

The choices are tricky.

For example, if you have a choice between a local, in season tomato and a tomato from 1000 miles: easy decision, local.

If I have a choice between a local non-organic apple and an organic apple from New Zealand, go for the non-organic local.

If i have a choice between an organic and non-organic potatoes from Idaho, go with the organic.

And if there is a choice between locally raised beef and a vegetable meal from across the country, the vegetables are a better choice from an environmental standpoint.

Sep. 09 2009 09:32 AM
Patrick Carroll

Doesn't the price of food reflect the price of the energy required to grow it?

So, if I'm buying the cheapest food I can, am I not also buying the lowest carbon-footprint food I can?

If that's not the case, because, oh, of government subsidies, why not get rid of those subsidies, and let the true price show?

In other words, rather than preach at me about being "greedy," why not let pricing signals govern my behavior?

Environmentalism is the new puritanism: the fear that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying a guilt-free existence.

Sep. 09 2009 07:28 AM

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