A new generation of food activists has come to believe that "sustainable farming" and "eating local" are the way to solve a host of perceived problems with our modern food supply system. By combining healthy eating and a high standard of environmental stewardship, these locavores think, we can also deliver important economic benefits and increase food security within local economies.
But after a thorough review of the evidence, economic geographer Pierre Desrochers and policy analyst Hiroko Shimizu have concluded these claims are mistaken. In The Locavore's Dilemma, they explain the history, science, and economics of food supply to reveal what locavores miss or misunderstand: the real environmental impacts of agricultural production; the drudgery of subsistence farming; and the essential role large-scale, industrial producers play in making food more available, varied, affordable, and nutritionally rich than ever before in history. At best, they show, locavorism is a well-meaning marketing fad among the world's most privileged consumers. At worst, it constitutes a dangerous distraction from solving serious global food issues.
Deliberately provocative, but based on scrupulous research and incontrovertible scientific evidence, The Locavore's Dilemma proves that:
Our modern food-supply chain is a superior alternative that has evolved through constant competition and ever-more-rigorous efficiency.
A world food chain characterized by free trade and the absence of agricultural subsidies would deliver lower prices and more variety in a manner that is both economically and environmentally more sustainable.
There is no need to feel guilty for not joining the locavores on their crusade. Eating globally, not only locally, is the way to save the planet.
About the Author
Pierre Desrochers is an associate professor of geography at the University of Toronto who writes frequently on economic development, globalization, energy, and transportation issues. He was a research fellow at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University.
Hiroko Shimizu holds a master's of international public policy from Osaka University. Desrochers and Shimizu have both been research fellows of the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana, and the Institute for Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
from the Foreword by Blake Hurst, president, Missouri Farm Bureau
In large parts of the world, local trumps science, and people suffer as a result . Desrochers and Shimizu take the idea of local food to the back of the barn and beat the holy livin' tar out of it. In a more rational world, their defense of what is so clearly true would not be needed. However, our world is not rational, and most of what passes for thinking about food is as full of air as an elegant French pastry.”
Ronald Bailey, Reason.com
Desrochers and Shimizu demonstrate that the debate over food miles is a distraction from the real issues that confront global food production.”
Desrochers is the scholar's scholar. In an age where few read all important material on all sides of their subject, this professor stands out.”
Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy, sspp.proquest.com
Desrochers delivers a serious warning to the fetishization of local agriculture as the magic bullet that will solve our food problems.”