Questioning the Value of the Locavore Philosophy

In The New York Times this week, there’s an interesting article by Damon Darlin entitled, “A Balance Between the Factory and the Local Farm.”

Darlin talks about the locavore trends capturing chefs, diners, and home cooks across the country–even Michelle Obama. From menu descriptions offering local foods to an increase in the number of farmers’ markets, supporting local producers has become more prevalent in the U.S..

Darlin also challenges the opportunity for the locavore trend to revolutionize the industrial food system, claiming it’s not practical, for example, to get local vegetables in winter climates. (I beg to differ, however. If you plan ahead, you can create quite a store of produce that lasts all winter long.)

And, he has a good point about the inconsistencies among locavores. Take wine, for example. I dealt with this dilemma myself in a blog post last fall. Is it okay to support your local farmers and producers but buy your wine from California or Italy when you live in Michigan? (Which, by the way, actually has some pretty decent wines.)

While Darlin speculates that a locavore philosophy won’t feed a whole country year-round, he does concede that “the mammoth food factories in the United States” may be “a case of a manufacturing system that has grown too fast or too large to be managed well.”

Good point. Our food system is definitely broken. Maybe a locavore philosophy is the first step to fixing it.


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