The “Buy Local” Movement:
Nobody wants to actually change what they eat. If our oranges come from Mexico and we decide we want to eat local instead, we don’t just stop eating oranges. No, we instead insist that somebody start growing oranges nearby. And there’s a reason they weren’t already doing that.
The vast majority — over 90 percent — of food-related emissions don’t come from transportation, but production. So if food is grown in a place where it can’t be produced efficiently, like our hypothetical oranges, it’ll end up being more harmful to the environment than food that’s been efficiently grown and then flown in. Any non-native crop usually requires extra irrigation and stronger fertilizers, which add far more to a dish’s carbon footprint than one lousy airplane trip.
Locations like the Pacific Northwest need more environment-harming fertilizer to produce the same amount of food grown in a sunnier place like New Zealand. Countries like the U.K., with limited open space, require more intensive farming techniques than those with bountiful space.
There is such a thing as a local diet that does more good than harm, of course: It just takes a lot of research, sacrifice, diligence, and careful planning … which usually doesn’t go hand-in-hand with that weed, regular co-op shopper. Long story short: Without reverting to an extremely well-researched native diet, which most 100-mile dieters don’t do, we’re better off just letting the foreigners feed us. Maybe we can do them a solid, though, and stop burning their food on our way to buy their stuff.
TL;DR: Hipsters are myopic, privileged jackasses, but as long as they get to eat their fresh, LOCAL!, kale and fig chutney, it’s all good.
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