Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Locavores vs. Kiwis

I've been trying to eat locally whenever possible in an effort to eat better and do my part for the environment. It's been easy enough in summer time because there are plenty of Georgia grown tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, etc to keep me sated. But what about things that don't grow in Georgia? Is a good little locavore-wannabe like me supposed to give up kiwis, grapes, pineapples, and other assorted tasty treats that come from far, far away?

According to today's NY Times, "10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List", that might not be necessary.

Forbidden fruits from afar. Do you dare to eat a kiwi? Sure, because more “food miles” do not equal more greenhouse emissions. Food from other countries is often produced and shipped much more efficiently than domestic food, particularly if the local producers are hauling their wares around in small trucks. One study showed that apples shipped from New Zealand to Britain had a smaller carbon footprint than apples grown and sold in Britain.

Fascinating! It would have never occurred to me that food from far away could conceivably be better for the environment. This makes me think of two things - 1) local producers need to get their act in gear. There's no excuse for locally grown foods to be bad for the environment. Even if you're a small producer, I'm sure you can find ways to become more efficient. Maybe pair up with other small producers for shipping? 2) I don't have to feel guilty every time I buy plums from California (although I suppose I can't be sure those California farmers are being eco-friendly.

I still love farmer's markets, and I think supporting local producers is important, but I also want what I want, and I'm not willing to give up some of my favorite produce just because it doesn't grow in Georgia. I guess I love eating more than the environment? Shh...don't tell Al Gore.



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