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The Elitism and Racism of “Local Food” and the Edible Schoolyard

“Eat local” is the latest intellectual fad on the Left Coast. These “locavores,” as adherents like to call themselves, want you to eat only food grown near where you live — say, within 100 miles of your home. The goal, in theory, is to foster “sustainable agriculture,” to lower the carbon footprint of your food (which generally travels thousands of miles from farm to kitchen table), and consequently get that warm-and-fuzzy back-to-the-earth type feeling.

Oh, did I mention that the locavore movement is most popular in California?

This little detail is significant because California is just about the only state in the entire union that has the climate and the soil to grow such a wide variety of produce that it could even theoretically support its current population with “locally grown” food.

While food is grown in every state, most of that food is not sold directly to individual consumers — it is sold to food manufacturers around the country and around the world. So even if you lived right in the middle of a Kansas wheat field, you probably couldn’t “eat locally” because you would have no retail access to that wheat, which will instead probably end up in a bagel at Coney Island.

And don’t miss the hidden second page of the essay, which is actually a full-fledged photo report on its own, with pictures like…

Read the rest here!

24 Responses to “The Elitism and Racism of “Local Food” and the Edible Schoolyard”

  1. 1Ken on Feb 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm:

    I think that that was at least a noble, albeit not well-thought-out, plan. However, are school authorities so out of touch that they honestly do believe that kids would get excited over something like that? What kid would turn down a chocolate bar and soda for a big hunk of carrot and a glass of tomato juice? What kid would rather spend a warm afternoon picking sprouts in a garden than out on the basketball court or football field? Hell, when I was a kid my mom used to make me do yardwork as punishment!

  2. 2zombie on Feb 6, 2010 at 6:59 pm:

    Ken: Hell, when I was a kid my mom used to make me do yardwork as punishment!

    And don’t forget your hero Mao, who (starting with the Cultural Revolution) sent intellectuals and former landlords out to work in the fields as a form of “punishment” — i.e. re-education.

    Shocking that the parallel with the Cultural Revolution never occurred to these “educators,” who after all all cheered the Cultural Revolution from afar when it was happening.

  3. 3Ken on Feb 6, 2010 at 8:40 pm:

    And don’t forget your hero Mao

    :::EYEROLL:::

    I haven’t made an overtly political comment on this blog in a great while…most likely because politics and ideology take a backseat to more important things in my life now. I commented expecting a discussion on the report given here, not barbed political sarcasm. Guess I was being naive.

  4. 4Skid on Feb 7, 2010 at 9:29 am:

    No, the current infrastructure of the US could not currently support everyone following this diet. 30 years ago it couldn’t support everyone having an Internet connection, and 100 years ago you couldn’t fit enough automobiles in New York for everybody to drive to work.

    Infrastructure changes as there is demand for it. If enough people start using this diet then there will be farmers and companies who will want to market to them, therefor growing a larger variety of crops in areas where traditionally only one crop has been grown. Food crops were grown all over the USA when it was first settled, so it is quite possible to do, even with primitive technology.

    I don’t personally follow this diet, I’d probably do something closer to 80% within an 80 mile radius than the full 100%, but the idea of doing it really isn’t as silly as you all make it out to be. It has only been in the last couple hundred years that humans have been able to obtain foods in bulk from large distances, adapting back to the old method of growing food within an easily transportable radius would make starvation far less likely to occur in cases of civilization shattering disaster.

  5. 5Keith on Feb 7, 2010 at 9:11 pm:

    It seems that you look down on farming and growing food.

  6. 6buzzsawmonkey on Feb 8, 2010 at 6:38 am:

    Skid: Infrastructure changes as there is demand for it. If enough people start using this diet then there will be farmers and companies who will want to market to them, therefor growing a larger variety of crops in areas where traditionally only one crop has been grown. Food crops were grown all over the USA when it was first settled, so it is quite possible to do, even with primitive technology.

    One hundred years ago there were 1/3 as many people in the US as there are today. There were local farms even inside the cities—Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island all still support farms in New York City, for instance.

    The reason that these local farms no longer exist is that the model was not sustainable. The land was more valuable for building houses than it was for growing potatoes or chickens. That is why the potato farms of the Hamptons have now been broken up into multimillion-dollar estates.

    Even when farms and other agricultural endeavors were close into the urban centers, however, people did not subsist merely on locally-grown products. Ships and railways were bringing tea from China, beef from the Argentine, bananas from Central America, etc., etc., from the time these things were first available.

    The world economy has existed since there has been a world; since before the days the Phoenicians mined tin in Cornwall, the Romans imported grain from North Africa, and the Silk Road was first opened up. The only difference is that today the world seems smaller because the shipping is faster. Why ostensibly educated people, who should know this, want to squat in their lean-tos gnawing only what grows in their immediate vicinity, going against thousands of years of human historical development, is a mystery.

  7. 7Millisa on Feb 12, 2010 at 7:27 am:

    One of the premises behind eating locally is that it is unsustainable for us to expect to eat the same fruit of vegetable 365 days a year. Just because one can not eat everything you are “accustomed” to eating in your diet locally does not mean you should not eat anything locally. If every American traded those products which could be grown locally with ones that are not, we would make a significant impact. Community Shared Agriculture programs make this even more probable.

    Most of the US is in fact capable of growing a plethora of vegetables and fruits seasonally. Even a city lot can be transformed to produce enormous of amounts of food. And the surrounding areas of large cities if managed properly could meet the demands of the inner city’s population. Children no longer have any clue or connection to the food they eat and yet it is one of the most important aspects of our existence. Lets not confuse not wanting to change our food production and eating habits with not being able to.

  8. 8Trimegistus on Feb 12, 2010 at 7:30 pm:

    I was unaware that growing food is a problem in this country, or that people in American cities have trouble finding food.

    Here’s the simple fact: transportation is cheap. Cheaper than farming, in most places. So we farm where farming is cheap and ship the food to places where people are doing more valuable things. This is called economics. If well-meaning hippies learned a little economics they wouldn’t sound like complete idiots.

  9. 9Rob Crawford on Feb 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm:

    Do you like trees?

    If you do, then “locavores” should be your enemies. Take a look at areas that are relatively tree-covered now, and compare them to pictures of the same location 100 years ago. Odds are you’ll see more trees in the newer pictures. Heck, there’s a great big chunk of Ohio that’s being turned into parkland because it’s no longer necessary to use it to grow food.

    And, Millisa, there’s a name for “the surrounding areas of large cities”. It’s “suburbs”. People live there. Beyond that, there are the places where food’s grown.

  10. 10nickless on Feb 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm:

    Considering the underlying premise behind this is to lower the ‘carbon footprint,’ and that itself is a paranoia of the AGW Myth, this is nothing more than moral masturbation designed to let people with cushy existences wank their pomposity silly in a meaningless, yet altogether unproductive, way. Its just another shadow-play of self-loathing moving into self-flagellation and then to self-aggrandizement as these people feel superior for coming up with a solution to their non-existent problem.

  11. 11memomachine on Feb 12, 2010 at 8:17 pm:

    Hmmmm.

    In that case I challenge everyone who buys into this “locavore” nonsense to only buy and drink -coffee- that is grown within 100 miles of your home.

    And if you’re not living in Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and the like then you’re purely out of luck then.

  12. 12Anna Keppa on Feb 12, 2010 at 8:29 pm:

    It’s compeletely frackin CRAZY. Here in New England, as I survey the fruits / veggies in my local “organic” Whole Foods supermarket, NOTHING available on the shelves in the dead of winter would be here!!! Millisa, should we all go out and eat the snow???? Shouldn’t you be advising Barack to contract the economy, rather than grow it ? After all, just think of the millions of people here and around the world who would be thrown out of work if they followed your advice??? We had a similar POV expressed on our local newspaper, along with the plea to stop buying most everything in the name of “the planet”. I’m sure the businesses paying to advertise in that just-barely-surviving newspaper need that sort of of “thinking”!!!!

  13. 13Anna Keppa on Feb 12, 2010 at 8:33 pm:

    Millisa: “Children no longer have any clue or connection to the food they eat and yet it is one of the most important aspects of our existence.”

    Agreed. Neither do do-gooder Greenies.

    ” Lets not confuse not wanting to change our food production and eating habits with not being able to.”

    Lets not confuse moonbats who want everyone ELSE to change their food production , with those of us who do not want to because we do not want to return to 1900.

    Millias, I think you shold spend more time shaving yur amrpits and less hectoring the rest of us on the need to change our habits. But, OK, just tell us what locally-grown products YOU used to prepare dinner tonight.

  14. 14nikisknight on Feb 12, 2010 at 9:56 pm:

    “One of the premises behind eating locally is that it is unsustainable for us to expect to eat the same fruit of vegetable 365 days a year.”
    Guess I’m onto a 100% meat diet then! Animals live year round.
    Heh, not really. I’m of the mind that it is a good thing that people are able to get food that they like whenever they like, provided they are able to compensate the grower and transporter and fertilizer manufacturer and electrical company that provides power to the refrigeration, etc. their asking price, indirectly via the mediation of the supermarket. In fact, it a a marvelous thing.

    The greenies are right that we shouldn’t take such things for granted, but wrong that we are somehow wicked to enjoy kiwi in January in Torronto or what have you. If for some reason unseasonal food becomes harder to find, the price will rise and people will choose differently or pay more.

    Unsustainable is a buzzword without meaning in this context.

  15. 15Corona on Feb 13, 2010 at 4:36 am:

    Excellent. With all this bickering and in-fighting no one will notice my manufacturing of Soylent Green scoop trucks and processing plants.

  16. 16Mike on Feb 13, 2010 at 11:16 am:

    Hey, let’s all of us East of Nevada boycott California-grown fruits and vegetables, since they are not locally-grown. Ruin their economy (which is the obvious end result of this ridiculous, childish nonsense) and see if they still want to tell the rest of us how to live. Chuckleheads!

  17. 17Dianna on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm:

    Thanks for this, zombie.

    I should mention the sheer joke of trying square-foot gardening in a 25 x 30 back yard. Which is mostly cement slab. Oh, and how amusing life becomes when the mint escapes and rampages down the line of houses….

  18. 18Rob Taylor on Feb 20, 2010 at 7:42 am:

    With a few bad winters and a collapsing farm infrastructure the U.S. would stave to death if we all went locolvore. What exactly would people in North Dakota or New England do after a bad winter like this? Could all those people eat food grown locally especially if planting seasons are cut short or we lose crops due to bad weather?

    What about the south west? How about the magaplexes? Come on.

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  21. 21Barf on May 25, 2014 at 6:18 am:

    So, the author wrote an article about racism and elitism in the local food movement. And no one addressed race and elitism in their discussion. Damn white people, most white folks don’t know that the organic/local movement partly came from small black tenant farmers in the south trying to get into more niche markets in the 1950s and 1960s. Alas, I wonder why this story is unknown???

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