Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Is eating local the best? the debate continues on

Strengthening community is an important benefit of eating locally
Posted by David Morris at 1:05 PM on 12 Sep 2007

"...Buying and using local food creates a tight-knit interconnection between producers and consumers. It makes us more intimately aware of the impact of our buying and producing decisions on our neighbors....

"A local food economy enables accountability; distance disables accountability. As we have recently discovered, food shipped across the planet, from jurisdictions and by corporations that do not view safety as their highest priority, is virtually untraceable. Or it requires global inspection agencies that themselves become unaccountable.

"Still, a growing number of voices, especially from southern countries, criticize advocates of local food on equity grounds. Many developing countries rely on agricultural exports to generate foreign currency to buy products and services essential to their survival and growth, they argue. If the developed world suddenly stopped importing its food, southern farmers would be further impoverished. This could have profound environmental consequences. Poverty is the single biggest factor driving problems like deforestation, biodiversity loss, soil depletion and the endangerment of wildlife. Export earnings -- from food flown to Europe and the United States -- allow southern farmers to invest in more environmentally friendly agriculture.

"I find the equity argument more compelling than the environmental argument against local foods. Yet the equity argument also ignores the dynamics of dependence.

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