Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

The backlash against local food

Until recently, one tenet of enviro-foodie wisdom was that eating ethically meant eating locally. But this year, skeptics offered reasons to doubt that a local diet is always the moral way to eat. The problem lies in scale: while the vegetables you buy from a Community Supported Agriculture farm are usually delivered in a small vehicle — one that may be an old gas-guzzler — big food companies tend to ship their wares in massive trucks that can hold an entire county's produce. Depending on how far those trucks are traveling, they may be more carbon-neutral than your local farmer's pick-up. Locavores have countered that the food conglomerates are mostly shipping processed and packaged foods, not fresh vegetables; they say the added processing negates any savings in carbon emissions. The bottom line? Buy fresh foods locally. If you must have frozen waffles, don't sweat their origin.