Eat Local Food. Um, Except When You Shouldn't.
We do go on about the benefits of eating local food. So does Peter Singer in The Way We Eat, , but he points out certain exceptions, where the social good of importing outweighs the benefit of buying local. Rice is a great example- growing it employs thousands of Bangladeshis. It is dense and longlasting so it is cheap to transport by ship. California rice, on the other hand, is "a monsoon crop in a desert state" according to San Francisco author Marc Riesner. Here it is water, chemical and equipment intensive, rather than labour intensive as in Asia. Jeffery MacDonald writes in the Christian Science Monitor, quoting John Clark of the World Bank: Biases in favor of local production techniques can lead not only to wasteful energy systems such as growing bananas in domestic hothouses, but also to a mistaken idea that techniques most familiar to consumers are also ecofriendly. If local farmers "are using tractors, as they most certainly will be, then probably right from the start that means the food is less energy efficient in terms of oil use than hand-plow or ox-plow production in a developing country," Clark says. "And so it can be very deceptive to say that because it's local, it's avoiding all of these problems." ::Christian Science Monitor via ::Common Ground