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Apr 23, 2012 10:15 AM

Eating local is not good for the planet?

I have a feeling their is some bad math going on in this report. It is certainly thin on details.


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  1. But do the advocates of 'eating local' do any math? Often 'eating local' sounds more like a slogan than the result of careful analysis.

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulj

      I don't, but I don't do maths. Just kidding. Their big stat is 83% of the energy used is for production and the larger producer has economies of scale. That may or may not be true. Depends on the farmer. Joel Salatin runs his farm with very little fossil fuel usage. Here's an interesting piece he wrote recently -

      I have found another article about the eat local myth. It has more detail. I'll post after I've read if I think it's any good.


      1. Interesting stuff, jb, thanks for the links. The issues are certainly more complex than the Huffington article deals with and I think World Watch is getting closer to considering more of them. I look forward to reading their next installment.

        At bottom, the local food movement is moving the discussion and behaviors in the right direction. Problems certainly exist, but it would seem that awareness of them will help lead to mitigation. The one thing no one seems to be able to dispute, however, is the superior quality of in-season, truly fresh, local produce.

        1. The problem with eating local is that there are so many people living in areas where there is no local produce or other foods. The locale is not suited to growing. There might be some family gardens, but even at the "local" farmer's markets, most of the fruit and vegetables are trucked in from another state, or from a few farms several hours away.

          1. It depends on the definition of "local", the "local" growing conditions, and the product. An oft-cited study by Lincoln University in New Zealand found that importing lamb into Britain resulted in less carbon dioxide emissions than those produced locally due to a number of different reasons (

            If you live in a place with a long, harsh winter, growing a few hundreds tons of locally-grown produce in greenhouses would probably be worse (ecologically-speaking) than importing them from a warmer growing region.

            Additionally, many items cannot be grown locally even during the warmest part of the year. For example, coffee plants, cacao trees, pineapples, etc., usually cannot be grown outside of tropical areas.