Feature

Buying local is bad for the planet

The “first-world food fetishes” of the Whole Foods crowd aren’t always good for the environment, and they hurt the world’s poor, said Charles Kenny at Foreign Policy.

Charles KennyForeign Policy

If foodies really care about the future of the planet, said Charles Kenny, they should give up buying local and shun organic food. The “first-world food fetishes” of the Whole Foods crowd aren’t always good for the environment, and they hurt the world’s poor.

Locally grown food often takes more energy to produce than food imported from the third world—especially when it’s out of season. It’s far “greener” to import fruits and vegetables from South America and Africa than to grow them in energy-intensive hothouses during a North American winter.

Organic farmers, meanwhile, get 8 percent less food out of their land than conventional farmers, and in eschewing chemical fertilizers, use tons of manure from energy-consuming livestock. That’s why organic produce is far more expensive. So the more land we give over to “lower efficiency organic production,” the more expensive all food becomes—bad news for the “1 billion people worldwide who are malnourished.”

If you really care about the planet, forget being a locavore, and become a “cosmovore”—a cosmopolitan consumer of food from everywhere.

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