The Locavore's Dilemma

The Locavore's Dilemma

In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet

Book - 2012
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A carefully researched deconstruction of the "eat local" ethos argues that it distracts people from solving serious global food issues, identifying the flaws in locally minded logic while explaining how the elimination of agriculture subsidies and opening international trade offer more realistic and sustainable solutions.
Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, c2012
ISBN: 9781586489403
Branch Call Number: 338.19 vDES
Characteristics: 256 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Shimizu, Hiroko 1965-


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Stan Combs
May 27, 2014

Finally, two people with the guts to counter the myths propagated by noisy "food activists" (who have little or no knowledge of agriculture or economics) with researched information and analysis. As an agricultural professional with third-world experience, I applaud their demonstration that "localvorism" equals a "nasty, brutish, and short" life, both historically and at present. I lived and worked in regional development in a South Pacific archipelago where 85% of the population mostly ate organic food with zero food miles. One year, after poor growing weather, I organized food relief for most of the island I lived on - so much for local food security. Later, I visited many of the islands meeting with local people to ask, "What do you want from 'development'?" The universal answer was the opportunity to raise crops that could be exported for foreign cash so they could buy the things we Westerners take for granted; women added the opportunity to grow new imported crops to better feed their families, and better child-birth facilities (that would require exports for foreign exchange in order for the government to build and operate them) - so much for the social and economic benefits of the "idyllic" locavore life.

Oct 28, 2013

This book clearly demonstrates that contemporary agricultural practices (and globalized agricultural markets) are more efficient than locavorism. Where the book falls down is its failure to meaningfully engage with the peak oil (or peak energy or peak everything) thesis. The authors do touch on peak oil and, in two and a half pages they dismiss it, making the (probably incorrect) assumption (typical of neoclassical economics) that substitutes will arise.

While analytically convenient, dismissing the rapid depletion of the key input to contemporary agriculture and global trade fundamentally undermines the value and validity of their book. This oversight is a bit ironic given that the authors’ charge that locavores “fail to take a broad enough look at the relevant issues to understand some inherent shortcomings of their prescription” (pp. 87-88).

While the Locavore’s Dilemma is a useful corrective to weak arguments for changing agricultural practices, it obscures the more salient issue: globalized food production will be unsustainable within the next 30 years and public policy ought to encourage us to alter what we produce and consume (and how we produce and consume it). Locavorism offers one model; perhaps there are others? Ignoring this issue does readers (and society) a disservice.

Mar 08, 2013

As someone who grew up on the farm, I am so glad to see this book. It's well overdue for people to get real data to counter the incredibly misinformation that's out there.

Unfortunately, it runs completely counter to the politically correct, enviro-narrative, which means the authors have been virulently attacked personally for daring to speak out. In reality, the authors are very approachable - Pierre Desrochers has even responded to me personally through their facebook page. Unlike their detractors, the authors are approachable and open to discussion.

Oct 15, 2012

An important work that cuts through the cacophony of environmental activism and debunks, effectively, its myths.


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