It's Never as Simple as We'd Hope

27 May 2009|tommy

In a recent briefing for BNET, Katherine Glover noted a growing trend in the “local food” movement: false “local” claims and measures to qualify “local” when resources like fertilizer, pesticides, etc. are flown in to support local foods. Clearly, “local” isn’t as simple as we’d hope.

Glover notes that “local” is problematic in a whole set of ways:
– there’s no clear definition of “local” so that could mean anything
– local food can be grown with non-local materials
– local food may not actually be any better for the environment

I don’t pretend to have answers or responses to these issues, but I do think it’s important to raise them. While “local” might seem like a simple concept, it’s not. This is a good reminder that we need to look at the whole picture to determine pluses and minuses. Local seems to be a good way to go, but only if done smartly – using local resources, with an emphasis on stewarding local land and jobs.

What begins as grass-roots innovation becomes shallow marketing and manipulation if not treated carefully. Perhaps it’s not the letter of the law that matters as much as the spirit.

Ms. Glover has written a number of thoughtful pieces on issues of local food and sustainability. Read more here, here, and here.

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