Do locavores do more harm than good?

It’s a provocative question, as we see a proliferation of farmer’s markets, and slow/local food aficionados increasing. I suppose I am one of the latter. Still, criticism is a healthy thing, and that’s what authors Pierre Desroches and Hiroko Shimizu are doing, with the publication of their book, The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000 mile diet.

Check out the article and interview by Claire Thompson with Desroches in Grist (and don’t forget to read the comments!). What do you think?

Lizbeth Piña of JGG Organic Farm (photo by Jean Vengua)

By the way–in response to Desroches’ description of the local food movement as one that primarily benefits “the elite”–I have seen in North Monterey County hundreds of working class, Mexican, Latino, and Oaxacan farmers and family members involved in growing and selling locally grown (and often organic) farm produce in the farmers’ markets here, and I have also interviewed some of these growers and sellers. A number of the small, but long-lasting local vegetable, fruit, and flower farms in the area were started decades ago by Chinese, Japanese, and Czech working and middle class folks who persevered through many trials.

Uke player at the Hollister Farmers Market (photo by Jean Vengua)

I suspect that a lot of the white local-food enthusiasts and researchers that have promoted and popularized the locavore movement (Michael Pollan!) are middle to upper-class. But it’s a movement that is increasingly cutting through class and ethnic barriers, and people of differing cultures bring in a wonderful variety of produce that make going to the farmers markets a much more fun and interesting experience (for everyone), than shopping at the local Safeway. In that sense, there’s also some healthy competition involved.

See also:

* How Change is Going to Come in the Food System, by Michael Pollan
* We Are Already Here, by Kitchen Kwento
* The Locavore Myth, by James E. McWilliams (Forbes, 2009)