Thursday, December 10, 2009

Root for Local (Vertical) Produce

GOOD, a group the Vertical Farmer loves, published this infographic (an image created to illustrate boring numbers data, see more here) showing how far "local" produce travels from plant to plate compared to that distance for "conventional" produce. The results are shocking.

The data is from Iowa, but the author - and the Vertical Farmer - thinks the data would look approximately the same for any state: conventional produce travels much farther than local produce. Vertical Farms could turn every city into its own produce producer.

Some people, often Conservatives, sometimes have trouble seeing past "what is" to "what should be." In this case, "what is" is a US food system where half of the food goes to waste (see: Half of US Food Goes to Waste and Jonathan Bloom's blog, Wasted Food), school lunches are less healthy than fast food, the government funds overproduction and ultimately is partly responsible for international starvation, and we endanger ourselves simply by eating (for a more in depth look at the food safety problem, read this TIME article.) That's what is. "What should be" is a system that feeds everyone, a system that is as efficient as we are capable of creating, a system that treats the destruction of the natural environment as a cost and not an externality. We need to revamp our food system.

Sometimes, conventional is a good thing. But is "conventional" worth protecting in this case? Should Iowa be growing its sweet corn 1,400 miles away? I know we spend less money on food as a percentage of our incomes than we did 50 years ago, but can people really defend a food system that leads to this kind of self-insufficiency?

AND ALSO, check out this trailer I found on Wasted Food for the movie Dive!

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