Briefly, the book argues that large-scale locavorism generally fails for economic reasons: it's cheaper and more sustainable to source from around the world, rather than "putting your eggs all in one basket" geographically. (Of course, they are not against sourcing locally when practical, or "gourmet" locavorism, where you pay more to get higher quality foods).
In practical terms, the authors would be for, say, buying meat from New Zealand when you live in North America because NZ has a favorable location for large-scale sheep raising and can thus leverage economies of scale. They are not against buying local meat instead, but feel that because the prices are higher (true as far as I can see), such operations will remain economic niches. They address many of the basic questions about global sourcing; for example, moving large quantities around by boat is generally far more fuel efficient than many such trips (eg, to the regional farm) via automobiles.
I find their arguments sensible but there is something about them that bothers me. Specifically, there seems to be no correlation between healthy food and the economics of food. Margarine is a good "economic answer" for butter (it's cheaper, stores better, etc) but a total FAIL from the Paleo point of view.
Personally, I would describe myself as a gourmet locavore. I pay higher prices for food in exchange for better eats and the hope of future health.
Your thoughts? Generally it helps to have read the book before commenting ;)
I won't waste my time reading such a poorly-thought out argument.
And I don't think it needs to be an all or nothing proposition. I live in the high desert and even so, 95% of my food is grown within 100 miles of my home. The other 5% (fish, wine, chocolate, tea, coffee, occasional tropical fruit) comes from climates/environments best suited for their production/harvest.
Any book that doesn't take into account a triple bottom line is really stuck in an old paradigm. Joel Salatin's books are a much better investment in my time & money.
I doubt that global sourcing of food would be more economically sensible if the true cost of energy use and environmental damage were factored in. Not to mention the cost to communities of losing their local businesses.
Yes, economies of scale can help lower the apparent costs of foods (I.e. money costs), but I'm starting to be more worried about the environmental damage. Seep and cattle, and most livestock are fine, as grass fed animals they help the soil that they are on, however, large monocultures, be them fruit, grains, or feedlots, are horrible for the environmental damage they are inflicting, and are reducing the fertility of the areas they are in.
It's kinda like "Walmart is cheaper because they have an economy of scale, but they damage the local economy."
The CBC (Canada's public radio station) aired a debate yesterday between the author of that book and a locavore. The author seemed a bit nutty to me, but definitely worth a listen.
Part of the locavore issue as I understand it is also a move toward what is seasonal and lives or grows locally. Though it can certainly be fun to eat foods from around the world, economically feasible or not, it seems to skip a large part of the issue.
The book seems highly hypothetical. If we lived in a world where mega-corporations, farm subsidies, unequal food/wealth distribution didn't exist, they might have a point.
It's probably true that strict locavorism might lead to more famine. It's also true that industrial agriculture, GM, preservatives, corn syrup, and enriched, gluten-bomb white bread have legitimately helped avoid a lot of famine.
But my understanding of Paleo is that we're not interested in supporting mass-produced, highly-processed and preserved global food systems because the products are unhealthy for us (and also other people and the environment).
All politics aside, fresh and less-packaged food is better. Therefore, seasonal and local is better.