Photo from Flickr/acnatta. Creative Commons.
We’ve all heard the mantras, seen the bumper stickers, puzzled over the portmanteaus–”Buy local,” “locavores,” “glocal.” But what if local is not the simple solution we’ve been told? What if eating locally, in some instances, can compromise your access to fresh food or unnecessarily skew market prices? That’s the premise of a recent post at the Atlantic by Barry Estabrook, former contributing editor at Gourmet magazine. Estabrook writes:
“It has all but become an article of faith that sourcing food locally is the most sustainable alternative to our current global food production system. But there is a growing body of evidence that local may be only part of the answer.
“Speaking at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions event last week, Richard Pirog, the associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, said larger regional food economies might be the solution.”
This approach–eating regionally, or within one’s watershed–is an idea long explored by Heifer International. In a fall 2009 article in “The Exchange” newsletter (PDF), Arthur Getz Escudero took a look at Heifer’s efforts, particularly in North America, and introduced many of us to a new term: the “foodshed.”