Bad math, twisted logic

August 21, 2010 at 4:40 pm 1 comment

Last week, Stephen Budiansky ( wrote an op-ed in The New York Times taking locavores to task for insisting that eating local uses less energy than eating industrially processed food. Never mind that he cites old and contradictory data and that his math is just plain pitiful (see rebuttals at Grist and Cook for Good). What’s even more mind blowing (and perhaps telling about his real agenda) is the giant leap he takes to reach this conclusion:

“The relative pittance of our energy budget that we spend on modern farming is one of the wisest energy investments we can make, when we honestly look at what it returns to our land, our economy, our environment and our well-being.”

Excuse me? One can argue all day about how to count food miles and whether or not locavores need to give up coffee and bananas.

But it’s quite another thing to assert, as LiberalCurmudgeon seems to be doing, that destroying our topsoil with monoculture, polluting our land and water with pesticides, and infusing our food with fructose, antibiotics and sometimes ecoli, is “the wisest energy investment we can make.”

Dude, if that’s the case, we’re in more trouble than I thought.

–Dee Reid

Entry filed under: Commentary, Food Energy, Food Miles, Politics/ Policy, Sustainable Food. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sustainable Eats  |  August 24, 2010 at 4:16 am

    Well put. I think most people, when they first begin to eat locally, preserve a lot of foods so that they can eat them out of season and somehow don’t think about that.

    If you truly eat in season there is no need to can, or freeze, or dry. I do some of all of that but seasonal eating means that you eat cabbage, kale, winter squash and carrots in the winter. You don’t eat strawberry jam and canned peaches all the time. True, those things are certainly nice but they aren’t sustainable.

    I will, however, never buy a local hothouse tomato regardless of how local it is unless just once in April when I can’t wait any longer.


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