Wednesday, February 20, 2008

footprint, foodprint, facts and fallacies

The article by Michael Specter in this week's New Yorker poses some interesting questions about food miles as a helpful measure for understanding and calculating one's carbon foodprint.

Calculations have to include more than miles, and the closest apple may not be the least expensive in terms of energy.

But then the carbon cost may not be the only reason local is attractive.

Specter does admit (this might have been in his interview of NPR's Fresh Air today) that local food usually is fresher and tastier.

But there is also the fact of human community and sense of place, of wanting to see or visualize where your food comes from, and know the people who grew it, or feel you do. There's also the economic goal of keeping money circulating in your own community, or county, or region. It's back to the adage of the Environmental Commons folks - not food as commodity, but food for community.

And if people have to be sentimental about something, I'd far rather it were their food than, say, their cars, or their plasma tvs, or their huge houses.

I'm not, as Specter puts it, mistaking morality for science here - I'm saying there is a place for both.

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