Friday, September 24, 2010

Delingpole On Buying Green

British blogger, James Delingpole, has a fun read (fun to me, anyway) about some misconceptions on buying local food. One interesting point:

One of the key points to remember is that, of the total energy costs of producing food, transportation from producer to retailer (from farmer to shop if you prefer) represents only a small fraction — around 4 per cent according to a 2007 study in the US.

Quite the opposite from what some of the buy local advocates have been telling us.

Addendum: More on buying local. Hat tip to Radley Balko for the link.

5 Comments:

At 11:59 AM, Blogger beachcomber said...

I'm in a discussion class for PLENTY, the CR/HSU book of the year, and we just touched on this at the end of yesterday's class because one student is questioning the whole idea of a 100-mile-diet.

While that fact may be accurate, I think that much of the point of buying locally goes beyond that specific cost. Have you compared the taste of a locally grown tomato versus the pink one in Winco? When I buy locally grown food, it is picked ripe, at the peak of flavor and usefulness. It's good and I use it all. Conversely, what I buy at the grocery store was picked green and transported via a bumpy circuitous route to get to me, leaving me with bruised produce when it eventually ripens, half of which ends up as chicken food or compost. When I compare what I actually eat, the price difference is less severe. Plus, I trust that our local farmers are spending the money I spend with them locally which I can't say for Safeway, Rays, et al.

I think the social interaction that takes place has value as well. It seems as if more people are FINALLY figuring out the value of REAL food and are getting back to canning and preserving the harvest to enjoy year-round. If someone would just see fit to open a year-round produce stand selling locally grown produce around here, it would become a more efficient process. We haven't had one of those since the Fresh Guys closed up.

 
At 6:46 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Thanks Beachcomber. I agree; talking to the person that grew the produce is fantastic. Here on the north coast, we can grow just about anything, so a 100 mile diet isn’t too tough, even with meat. And this guy begins by comparing green beans “air-freighted from Kenya” to “tough but worthy organic ones” – I already sense a bias. You get what you pay for…

 
At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Mr. Nice said...

I buy/grow local for an entirely different reason than this environmental whiffle ball game. Every cargo container of foreign mangos is one more chance to get some invasive genetics bad ass enough to make pampas grass, himalayan blackberries and hemlock look like minor local Humboldt problems.

I do buy at least half trucked in. How else do I get hot sauce and avocados? Even if there some secret stash in Willow Creek that is still 60 miles I got to trek so let the big truck bring them to me.

My corn came out bug food this year too. Need a new strain.

 
At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, national brands had to set their prices to compete with locals...didn't take long for that to flip-flop...now the locals stuggle to keep their prices hovering around national standards.

...also, his argument that "self reliance...doesn't stand up" because of it's vulnerability is ridiculous. I do agree with him though that our food situation (really a population issue) is way out of hand.

 
At 9:13 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I added another link to a locavore commentary as an addendum.

 

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