What’s the Big Deal About Local Food?

Farmers Market, City Market Kansas City

Peppers are displayed at the City Market in Kansas City. Photo from thecitymarket.org.

We recently saw an interesting article come across Twitter (follow us @commongroundks) addressing the local food movement. We’re curious to hear what you have to say about living a locavore diet.

The article from the Grist details a conversation with economic geographer Pierre Desrochers, who wrote “The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet” with his wife Hiroko Shimizu, a policy analyst. Desrochers says the book evolved from a memo on comparative advantage and the importance of trade for areas that can’t support food systems.

Through discussions of history, science and the economics of food supply, Desrochers and Shimizu seek to reveal what they believe locavores overlook or misunderstand. They challenge “local food purists” to step back a moment from the excitement of the movement to carefully consider the potential outcomes of their push to require widespread adoption of locavorism among schools, hospitals, prisons, government bureaucracies, military bases and universities.

Desrochers and Shimizu write:

“If widely adopted, either voluntarily or through political mandates, locavorism can only result in higher costs and increased poverty, greater food insecurity, less food safety and much more significant environmental damage than is presently the case.”

It’s a big statement, one that Grist article author Claire Thompson digs into further in a Q&A section with Desrochers. He clarifies that he’s not against local food, it’s the idea of mandating its use in certain public settings.

Desrochers notes that he and his wife are not advocating to eliminate locally grown food outlets like farmers’ markets.

“Good food has to be produced somewhere, and some of that could be in your neighborhood. But don’t make it mandatory, and don’t make a religion out of it, and understand that it often doesn’t make sense to have an extremely diversified local food system,” Desrochers says.

On the other hand, Thompson writes that the vast majority of folks see local food as one piece of a much larger shift, as opposed to an extreme.

So, what do you think?
Is it an all or nothing movement? How does locally grown food fit into the big picture? What are some of the pros and cons of locally grown food? Do you make a point to purchase locally grown foods all the time or just when it’s convenient? Why or why not? Do you have questions about local food versus that grown on a conventional scale? We’d really love for you to share your thoughts with us.

With all the information that’s out there, it’s normal to have questions. There are some great resources in the food facts section at FindOurCommonGround.com. Or, feel free to send your questions our way either through the comments section of this article or through our Contact page. Our volunteers are happy to share how they raise food on their farms and how they make food choices for their families.

Remember, we’ll never tell you how or what to eat, but we’ll answer your questions so you can make an informed decision on what’s best for you and your family.

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