Yup. That’s pretty much all there is to it. For all of you “go local!” buffs, the ones totally obsessed with this new trend, first of all, WOAH. Going “local” is NOT some new trend, people! Local is the way we evolved!! Do you think cavemen imported food? How about frontiersmen? Yeah, local is a way of life, so get over yourselves…
But local isn’t always good. In fact, sometimes it’s bad for the environment. Ever thought of that? It’s a pretty simple concept. The first step in realizing the fault in locavore lifestyle is acknowledging the unrealistic demands today’s food industry. Back when we were a naturally locavore society and didn’t have the option of importing goods, we ate what was available when it was available. That means eating melons in the summer, roots in the winter, and there’s nothing wrong with that…we still do that. The problem is, now, we also expect other crops to be there. Crops that aren’t supposed to be there. But now that we have the technological ability to grow them, we will. And we’ll do it locally. So it’s locavore food…or is it??
I vote, NO. Just because a food is grown locally, that doesn’t mean it’s locavore. Although “locavore” is supposed to include locally grown foods, I think classifying it as such misses the point. LOCAVORE means LOCAL because LOCAL is SUSTAINABLE. So locavore is really sustainable. Nothing else. Locality is just a vehicle of this sustainability. So what’s my point? Well, do you really think growing a non-winter crop in a greenhouse during the winter is sustainable? Maybe it’s being grown on a local farm, but does that mean its energy expenditure is valid?? No way!
Here’s an example: A study has shown that “it can be more sustainable (at least in energy efficiency terms) to import tomatoes from Spain than to produce them in heated greenhouses in the UK outside the summer months”, according to a food mile study. I think this sums up my point well. Truly eating sustainably means getting rid of fresh fruits in the winter, and in fact ditching a lot of the crops that we eat out of season. Thinking about this, I realize how unsustainable a lot of Farmer’s Markets crops are if they’re not actually produced in fields and are instead closely monitored in greenhouses and watered frequently. I now realize that scrutinizing a company for importing goods is not necessarily worse. Maybe those pineapples came from Hawai’i, but just imagine the energy expenditures had we grown them here?
What’s my point? Just this: If you want to eat sustainably, don’t focus so much on “local” as being a matter of “distance”. Realize that “local” really means being locally available. Eat seasonally. That’s what makes the real difference. Think about that the next time you make a grocery list, and consider growing your own food. Cheers.