Saturday, 18 June 2011

Unreasonable complaints about local food

From Arnold Kling at EconLog:
Ed Glaeser writes about another one of my pet peeves, locavorism. I always tell locavores that they should go further and only buy clothes made from local materials. Only use computers made from local materials. In fact, they should only consume goods that we can make ourselves using materials we can find on their own property.
My response:
It's easy to deliver an off-the-cuff dismissal of local food. But, did you even read Glaeser's article? Like many of the commenters here, he likes local gardens for their educational value. And surely Kling doesn't mind people choosing local food according to their own preferences.
You might object to government policies that strictly favor local food, but basically there really aren't many policies like that in the real world. Most government policies favor the conventional food system. And you might object to an over-sold argument that we should eat ONLY local food, but if that's your complaint, you should quote a particular opponent, because I think most writers on this topic are more reasonable.
The thing that I don't like is headline writers who exaggerate an argument to get us arguing among ourselves, when we all probably come pretty close to agreeing on the substance anyway. Notice that the Boston Globe subheading -- "Urban farms do more harm than good to the environment" -- has nothing to do with what Glaeser wrote.
Really, Glaeser should write the Boston Globe to ask the newspaper to change its dimwitted headline.

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