I’ve been meaning to write something on the “locavore” phenomenon, but nothing has quite coalesced yet. But in the meantime, in last Fridays’s NYT, Stephen Budiansky does a good job exploding the do-gooderism of the locavore legalists. Here’s a key paragraph:
The best way to make the most of these truly precious resources of land, favorable climates and human labor is to grow lettuce, oranges, wheat, peppers, bananas, whatever, in the places where they grow best and with the most efficient technologies — and then pay the relatively tiny energy cost to get them to market, as we do with every other commodity in the economy. Sometimes that means growing vegetables in your backyard. Sometimes that means buying vegetables grown in California or Costa Rica.
I’ve never liked the idea that its somehow immoral for me or my family to consume mangoes, even though they don’t grow all that well here in Michigan.
And as Budiansky points out, the only way to grow them locally would be to invest large amounts of capital and energy in artificially transforming the climate (via a greenhouse, for instance).
This is to say nothing of the virtue of interconnectedness that comes about when, for instance, I buy mangoes that originate in India, China, or Mexico and someone else buys cherries grown here in Michigan.
There’s something in the Bible about “doing unto others.” If you want other people to buy stuff from you, visit your town, and so on, you ought to be eager to reciprocate.