crunchies take note

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a new sign has popped up down to the whole foods market -- one reading "local." what a refreshing new salve for our consumerist conscience. not only do we get to pay $4 for a $2 head of lettuce, we get to bask in the virtue of "local" correctness, thus doing our important part to save the planet from the evils of global warming.

problem is, according to new research, seems iffin you run all the numbers to calculate a product's carbon impact, you have to go past "food miles" and figure in how much fertilizer, transported water, electricity and other energy is used to produce this stuff. apparently these "local" goods can produce up to four times the carbon emissions. so most friendly neighborhood "localvores" are gonna hafta start doing a lot of math to keep their self-righteous glow on.

to add insult to injury, a british environmentalist recently calculated that walking to the store contributes even more to global warming than driving a car. walking burns calories which need to be replaced by eating, and since producing food is more carbon-intensive than the gas most people use to drive their car to the market, it can actually be more environmentally destructive to walk than drive.

of course, all of this just seems to underscore the smock's cynical view that, regardless of what we do to make ourselves feel better -- dare i say virtuous -- about our consumption, our assaults against "global warming" are, in the end, symbolic at best.


On the other hand, I might buy the more expensive local produce not because it is "greener" but because it is fresher and tastes better.

Living in New England I've become much more aware of the local growing seasons. In the summer and early autumn I can go to the farmer's market and buy fresh tomatoes, squash, lettuce, apples, peaches, etc. for slightly more that at my local market and that taste ten times better. But in the winter and spring Farmer's markets aren't open and the grocery stores, even Whole Foods, are getting all those items from California, Florida or South America and the transport time means that many of them have been picked before they are ripe and will ripen in transport or on the shelves, which means they don't taste nearly as good as those local summer ones. But some entrepreneurs are starting to grow tomatoes and such year-round in greenhouses. I'll pay more for these local products not because I think they're "greener" than ones that are imported but because I'm certain they will be fresher and thus taste better.

Forget global warming. I buy local because a network of strong local economies is more resilient than local economies which are dependant on a global market. See Michigan auto industry.

Also, I have a better idea what conditions prevail locally. See tainted spinach scare. See pet food scare. See Chinese lead contamination scares.

Also...locally based businesses are more dependant on the local economy and more responsive, so it is easier to bring economic pressures to bear to change adverse conditions or policies - which is why I had my wedding invites printed by the local printer who, years before, refused to print pro-gay marriage flyers. This guy deserved my business - and that kind of personal relationship and accountability just ain't easy to find in big corps.

Cutting down on gas emissions...(and on our dependance on foreign oil as a result) is just one more reason to feel good. There isn't much out there in the way of number crunching that's likely to convince me otherwise, since the reason I do this is as a rebellion against cold numbers and an affection for what is human - community, relationships, and the human scale of living.

The environut position can best be described by watching movie "The Day After Tomorrow (which has great special effects by the way).

Notice that at the end of the movie, after a mass human extinction event, the astronauts look out their window and say "I have never seen the earth so beautiful" or some other nonsense.

No matter what you do the environuts will find something wrong. The only real solution, in their eyes,is less people.

I'm with MelanieB; I buy local primarily because it's fresher and tastes much better, and the Farmer's Market is no more expensive than Albertson's or somewhere for inseason produce.

coolio, ladies. thanks for sharing.
i would by local just to support local business ... iffin i ate veggies. bleck!

Next thing you're going to tell me is that hanging my laundry out on the line is bad for the environment.....

I buy local/organic as much as my budget allows (which truth be told isn't very often) because I have a somewhat better idea of where it has been before it arrived on my plate.

...but I am with you that most of our attempts at virtue are merely symbolic.

I, like the others, buy local because it is better. In every way possible (we are 15 minutes from the Suisun Valley, 20 from the Napa Valley, 30 from the Capay Valley, 20 from Brentwood, etc.), we have the best of just about anything. So, buying local is both cheap and tastes best. In fact, rather than paying the 40 cents a pound for outstanding local tomatoes (true, I have to pick them, but on Tuesday, I was able to fill a box with 27 pounds of juicy yum in about five minutes), I could go to the supermarket and pay $2.99 to $4.99 for a junk, hothouse tomato from who knows where.

I am, however, all about raising my carbon footprint, especially when I can do it at low cost to me. So, it is with mixed emotions that I greet your news about walking. On the one hand, I like to walk, and if I can get some high carbon points for my walk, then that is great. But now I will feel guilty when I drive to the store.

I will have to burn more plastic!

i luv you, mr. keilholtz!

ROFL, I started reading that comment and when I got to the second paragraph I knew it had to be Erik. ;)



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This page contains a single entry by smockmomma published on October 8, 2007 10:55 AM.

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