Friday, August 29, 2008

Eating Local

There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow or eat your own food, or get it from your neighbor, if that's your choice. We all should have to power to decide how we spend our money. More and more schools and government organizations are promoting and purchasing local food under the assumption that it is better for the environment and taking your taxpayer money to do it.

By doing this, policy makers can feel good about themselves at our expense.

The following post from the Marginal Revolution economics blog addresses eating local and the relationship between food miles and your ‘carbon footprint.’
Is there a tradeoff between how ‘local’ your food is and your impact on the environment?

Some say yes , but there is much debate about that issue, as you may find in the blog link or here in National Geographic.

Actual research related to this issue can be found here

Of course some of these take a shot at beef. They forget that cars are very necessary for transportation, and we know that they produce greenhouse gases, but we don’t stop driving altogether. We continue to produce more and more fuel efficient cars instead. The same can be said for beef production. Considering beef is a healthy and nutritious food source, we should not stop eating it altogether. Instead we should continue to produce more and more efficient cattle.

Today we get 185lbs more beef per head than we did just 40 years ago, and today's beef is a lot leaner and healther.


Sara DownToEarth said...

The study quoted in National Geographic presumed normal production practices for beef. Feeding cattle on less grain and having them spend more (or all) of their life on cattle arguably is less detrimental to the environment.

The point is, how food is produced makes a difference, as do many, many components of the whole system. Single point-solutions such as "local" or "vegetarian" aren't really solutions, just steps

Anonymous said...

I would like to challenge your view on the environmental impact of purchasing local beef. Your view seems to be lacking in the proper education. The study you tout is based on conventional practices of raising beef. Small Family Farms typically respect their land. They live on the land and have a vested interest in keeping it. Local beef that is raised on these small family farms is raised in a natural manner, in fewer numbers. Numbers that the land can sustain and thrive under. Then there's the issue of transportation. Locally raised beef on small family farms does not travel the distance that commercially raised beef travels. First step is calf to market, next haul is calf from market to backgrounder in the cornbelt, next travel ot the finishing feedlot, next travel to the slaughterhouse, next to the distributor or futher processing facility, next to another further processing facility or setting on distibutor's fridge storage, next step to the retail, next step to your home. Now that's a cross country field trip to say the least. Then there's the food safety issue. Less skilled underpaid workers, who typically could care less about what you will eventually eat vs. highly skilled generational family butchers who are by far experts and live and work in the same communities you do. Perhaps I could educate you on the subject. I am a bit of an expert in the field. I practice what I preach.