Is the Local Food Movement Misguided?

Eating local is in vogue, as the environmental impacts of industrialized agriculture surface. But is eating local really the right response? One author says maybe not.
September 6, 2009, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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Forbes talks with author James McWilliams about his new book challenging the wisdom of the local food movement.

"Forbes: What is wrong and right about locavores striving to fill their diet with local sources of food?

James McWilliams: There are a lot of things right with this. Encouraging us to ask where our food comes from and how it's produced; turning the farmers market into a civic space to bring the community together; trying to preserve agricultural space around cities.

At the same time, in the 21st century, we face a genuine agricultural dilemma, and that is to produce more healthy food on less land with fewer resources. I see the locavore response just as one response, and in the grand scheme of things it's a fairly small response. When we look at how a crop is grown or how a certain food is produced, transportation is really a small amount of energy used to produce that particular food. It's about 10%, according to several studies. What that means is the energy sink is elsewhere, how that particular crop is produced."

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Published on Monday, August 31, 2009 in Forbes
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