I think Stephen Budiansky makes a good point in this op-ed on the numbers abuse regarding energy consumption perpetrated by idealistic locavores. But he also overlooks a serious issue (or two), those that most affect my decision to eat local(-ish).
“The real energy hog, it turns out, is not industrial agriculture at all, but you and me. Home preparation and storage account for 32 percent of all energy use in our food system, the largest component by far.” That may be true. But my personal problem with industrial agriculture isn’t the energy usage. It’s the long-term unsustainability (not as a meme but as a fact) of the nature of the industry in this country (meaning the U.S.). I know I’m a little bit of a Michael Pollan-phile, but I have yet to hear a logical counter-argument to what he puts forth in The Omnivore’s Dilemma regarding the abuse of the system by corporate giants like Monsanto, the danger to healthy crops and soil because of massive monoculture acreages, and the subsidy-system-gone-wrong that encourages over-production of certain “staple” crops.
Secondly, and I would like to see some numbers on this, but I would rather support my local economy than, well, Monsanto. I would rather buy vegetables picked this morning (yes, ideally from a field and not a greenhouse, but sometimes Maine requires such energy-inefficiencies). I would rather support small businesses in my own community, where my dollar counts, where the money I spend can come back to me and can support my community through local reinvestment.
Lastly, local food really just tastes so much better.