Local is not the answer

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Local is not the answer

The latest email newsletter from Earthsave was waiting for me in my inbox this morning. If you haven’t signed up for it, you definitely should. There are always links to valuable stories, plus news about their upcoming events.

Local food no green panacea

Local food no green panacea

One link led me to a CBC story about a University of Toronto professor who has authored a report looking at the concept of “local” food, and how it is not a solution to our environmental situation.

The problem, Desrochers says, is that food miles are based on a faulty premise. Namely, that transportation is the major contributor to a food’s greenhouse gas output.

“People who’ve never been involved in agricultural production tend to minimize the requirements,” he says. Only about 10 per cent of the energy consumed in food production is related to transportation. “So to argue that the closer you are to your food, the better, is a real over-simplification.”

“Food miles are, at best, a marketing fad,” Desrochers says in his report.

Animal products are a prime example. Even eating locally produced meat, eggs, and dairy means contributing to environmental damage and agricultural inefficiency. The carbon footprint of animal agriculture is very nearly the same, whether your chicken was raised in the Fraser valley and eaten here in Vancouver, or if he was raised in California and eaten here. Transportation adds such a small amount of greenhouse gas emissions that the benefit is negligible.

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