Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Buying Local :: It's Not Just About the Carbons


Part of the frustrating thing about social movements is the meaning systems behind them and how these get negotiated in the media. In the minds of many, local is being equated with low-carbon, which gets peoples' hackles up, who advocate the argument that local isn't necessarily light on carbon impact. I was reading an article where a Toronto resident wouldn't buy from the Quinte Organics coöperative {from eastern Ontario}, as it was outside of her local radius. The farmer said he sees the value of Quinte Organics is the freshness and the taste.

The local=low carbon argument sets up detractors that reduce local to that single dimension. Here, a U of T geographer explains how a New Zealand apple may not be all that bad because of transportation efficiencies, but in all honesty, in order to fully assess this, an expensive life cycle analysis {farm supply chain, production, and downchannel logistics} need to be conducted. The problem is that comparisons between regions {e.g., New Zealand clovered sheep pastures versus poorer British pastures  that require the use of feed} don't take into consideration that alternative production practices can change the game.

The local food movement has more meaning to me than just carbon footprints. It's also about factors that affect both consumption and production, within an agroecological context::
  1. Taste. I've blogged about Ontario strawberries in Toronto versus California imports.
  2. Land use. Supporting local agriculture and keeping them viable can be used in concert with land use policies to thwart exurban sprawl.
  3. Shifting diets towards fresh, not processed foods.
  4. Shifting production away from monoculture and towards the benefits of multicropping
This video on the Quinte Organic coöperative explains their distribution system and the benefits of reducing the gap between food production and consumption at farmers' markets::

Twitterversion:: Localvore movement is often reduced to arguments about carbons {CO2}, but meaning has more nuanced agroecological sig. http://url.ie/5u9t @Prof_K

Song::  Shonen Knife-'Fruits and Vegetables'





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