Category — Agriculture
“Locavores” believe that food produced near final consumers is superior in myriads of ways to distant imports. While they might disagree among themselves on what exactly constitutes a “local foodshed” (a 100-mile radius or the whole state of California?), they have for the most part internalized long standing populist and romantic grievances against modern agricultural science, fossil fuels, large corporations and globalization.
As they see things, our modern-day genetically-modified “corn-utopia” is soaking up a rapidly vanishing petroleum pool while delivering junk food, cancer epidemics, rural poverty, and agricultural pollution. The way forward, they tell us, actually requires several steps backward to a simpler time when consumers personally knew and trusted the farmers that fed them…
Belief Confronts Reality
Fortunately, the locavores’ dire vision is at odds with the relevant data. Although it undoubtedly pains most of them to hear this, we live (much) longer and healthier lives than our ancestors; the overall state of our environment has improved significantly over the last century; and our food supply is cheaper, safer and more secure than ever before. 
In our book The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet (reviewed for this blog by Alex Epstein ), we draw on economic logic and basic scientific, geographical and historical facts to illustrate how the long distance trade in foodstuffs played a critical role in bringing about such positive trends.
What the world really needs, we argue, is to get rid of trade barriers, agricultural subsidies and uneconomical and environmentally unsound policies such as the ethanol mandate so that more food can be produced more cheaply in the world’s best locations by ever more efficient farmers.
Politically Incorrect Debate in Full Swing
To our surprise, our politically incorrect piece of work received much (and by and large fair) coverage. Of course, many die-hard locavores quickly denounced us as paid shills of Monsanto. A prominent Canadian food activist called us “baby killers” to our face. An anonymous reviewer on Amazon.com was in such a hurry to point the errors of our way that she didn’t notice that the book was co-authored! [Read more →]
August 10, 2012 10 Comments
The Globavore’s Achievement — A Review of ‘The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet’
“When reading this book, I had two feelings that I often have when reading Desrochers and Shimizu’s work–’Why was I never taught this?’ and ‘Everybody need to know this!’ …. The Locavore’s Dilemma will give you an appreciation of the unappreciated glory that is capitalist agriculture, which is responsible for the fact that you are alive, will live a long time, and in greater health than nearly anyone in history.”
One reason why the modern Green movement has won Americans’ hearts and minds, even as it advocates anti-development, anti-capitalist policies, is that the advocates of capitalism have spent too little time explaining, in vivid detail, the staggering improvements to human life that capitalism, and only capitalism, brings.
Advocates of capitalism have too often played defense, allowing anti-capitalists to control the debate: the anti-capitalists blame every problem (or pseudo-problem) under the sun on capitalism, and the pro-capitalist painstakingly refutes the charges point-by-point.
This is a futile strategy, because its best-case scenario is that observers hold the absence of a negative view about capitalism.
But why not make the positive case? Why not showcase the amazingly positive nature of capitalism, both its ingenious inner-workings and its glorious results?
If we frame the debate on our terms, the anti-capitalist side clearly gets exposed for what it is–an anti-freedom movement that seeks to interfere with and expropriate individuals whose lives would be much better without the anti-capitalists’ coercion.
Taking a positive approach to defending capitalism is one of the chief virtues of Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu’s must-read The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000 Mile Diet.
July 16, 2012 6 Comments