Friday, August 20, 2010

Math and Locavorism

I always enjoy complaining about silly fads.  While I love a good farmer's market as much as anyone else the whole locavore food movement always struck me as quite batty.  Whenever I did look into actual numbers, it just ended up looking battier.  Today's NY Times had some particularly striking numbers on the phenomenon.

"The result has been all kinds of absurdities. For instance, it is sinful in New York City to buy a tomato grown in a California field because of the energy spent to truck it across the country; it is virtuous to buy one grown in a lavishly heated greenhouse in, say, the Hudson Valley."
"The real energy hog, it turns out, is not industrial agriculture at all, but you and me. Home preparation and storage account for 32 percent of all energy use in our food system, the largest component by far."
"Indeed, households make up for 22 percent of all the energy expenditures in the United States."

"Agriculture, on the other hand, accounts for just 2 percent of our nation’s energy usage..."
That's just a sampling.  Take some time to read the whole article, at least if you have any exposure to this phenomenon.  I'm fully supportive of someone who desires, and is willing to pay for a particular type of consumption, I feel entirely different when they put a moral dimension on it that is based on pseudo-science rather than actual evidence.  Enjoy what you like, but if you make specific claims about it, be able to back up what you say, not repeat nonsense about food miles.  Now, if what you really like is more variety and heirloom tomatoes I'm right behind you, just don't pretend it's saving oil.

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