You have to love the wonderful people at the New York Times. Their columnists are sooooooooooo right about everythingggggggg (I hope you can sense my sarcasm). I’m about to wax on for quiteee a bit so strap in.
All of my bias aside, this article from last February which counters the argument for locally grown foods and home-grown foods is persuasive. It is persuasive- but for the wrong reasons.
I will highlight or paraphrase for you some of the author’s arguments and break them down with my counter in italics:
- It occasionally snows a lot above the Mason Dixon line so growing food locally is not always possible during the winter months (I hope you all were sitting down when you read that… I guess this reporter has never heard of canning vegetables. Also, no one said we had to automatically change our veggie/fruit culture to that of the Neolithic period. The biggest problem that I see with our food culture is the annihilation of soil and grasslands due to the rearing of animals in CAFOs).
- “Locavores” (people who are die-hard-locally-grown-buyers) are snobbish/too high-brow to eat “a Chilean grape served next to them” and their wine is usually shipped in from places very far away. (First of all, is this just an opinion? I didn’t see any poll or survey results so I am guessing this reporter is basing this off what he has seen personally. Damon Darlin, writing out of San Francisco, quite possibly the most high-brown place on earth probably sees this a lot. Come visit Harrisonburg, man. We don’t bite- we quietly go about our business buying locally raised food and don’t give an eff where our wine comes from. I am hoping you see that I generalized San Fran and Damon here similarly to the way Damon generalizes so-called “locavores.”) btw most of San Francisco does have it’s head up it own a$$
- Do-it-yourself gardening is often more expensive given the cost for soil, seeds, fertilizer, insect repellant than visiting your local farmers market to get produce (Okay, I think Damon just made a point for visiting the farmers market, DAMN. But he did slap my lettuce, peppers, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs back at home right in the face. My wonderful mom/garden-caretaker recently participated in a local poll of my own. I asked her, how does growing our own vegetables and herbs compare in price as well as convenience to buying at any kind of market. She said in terms of price, it was cheaper to grow our own produce especially when you consider the herbs/spices and the intense canning that occurs each year. In terms of ease, she said it was a 1 out of 10. She only has to occasionally water the herbs and veggies and loves even more the convenience of walking outside and picking your own food to eat).
- “As a sustainable trend, localism bears at least some resemblance to Mao Tse-tung’s Great Leap Forward. In the late 1950s, Mao decreed that steel production be localized in backyard steel furnaces. Villagers began melting down pots and pans and creating their own steel, which amounted to low-quality and largely useless pig iron… It was a bad idea that dragged down the nation’s productivity and played a role in widespread famine.” (Pump your breaks, Damon. I would hope that anyone who reads this does not equivocate growing their own fruits/vegetables in their backyard cheaply and efficiently to the Chinese melting down random metals to create some kind of Franken-steel over 60 years ago. These events have NOTHING to do with one another other than an author’s belief that homemade/homegrown produce is “low-quality” and “largely useless.” Reading the article, I don’t know what other point the author is trying to make other than this, do you?)
- Localism will not feed the entire country for the entire year. (I think that finally, we have come to an agreeance. Someone please make a call to Fred Durst. There is no way that farmers in the north can sustain their local needs during brutal winters, but we can all take baby steps. Buy local meats and produce when you can, stock up, can whatever you are able to, and we can all chip in to reduce our long term impact on our wallets, our health, and the environment).
The article actually ends with a paragraph and final note that actually hits an important point that the article SHOULD HAVE ADDRESSED. When briefly mentioning factory farms, the author notes that problems with this method “may be a case of a manufacturing system that has grown too fast or too large to be managed well… Somewhere, there is a happy medium.” Why devote an entire article to semi-bashing local growers and it’s sustainability/feasibility when you’re going to offer up this food for thought at the end? Why not devote an entire article to this “happy medium” rather than making unsubstantiated claims, unequivocal historical parallels and snarky comments about local growers and eaters?