About a year ago, The Economist ran a big article purporting to show that eating locally is actually worse for the environment than typical supermarket fare. I debunked the article here.
About six months later, the NYT op-ed page ran a piece making similar arguments. And I responded again.
In both of these pieces, the authors discovered that in a built environment rigged to grow food in mass quantities, process it in huge factories, and haul it over vast distances, there are cases in which industrial food that travels 1500 miles uses less energy than organic fare consumed nearby.
My response is, fair enough: but we’ve systematically dismantled the infrastructure required to make local food energy efficient, and invested billions of dollars in the industrial-food system. If we’re interested in an energy-efficient food system, let’s reinvest in local slaughterhouses, canneries, train systems, distribution points, retail outlets, etc., etc.
Now NY Times reporter Andrew Martin has come up with a think-piece trotting out the same arguments. Here’s what his piece boils down to:
Don’t drive your sport utility vehicle to the farmers’ market, buy one food item and drive home again.
Agreed. I won’t.