Monday, September 19, 2011

A fine last paragraph about environmentally sound food choices

Charles Kenny at Foreign Policy writes a fine last paragraph about environmentally sound food choices:
So how should you eat as a responsible global citizen? Consume less meat and oppose Western farm-subsidy programs -- especially if they focus on livestock. Campaign against U.S. biofuel programs, which divert corn into grossly inefficient energy production. Embrace further testing and analysis of GM crops. Encourage public funding of research and intellectual property laws that ensure that poor farmers are not priced out of the potential benefits of GM seeds. Spend only on organic food that is as energy- and land-efficient as conventional production. And be a smart consumer: Local produce grown out of season and meat raised on imported feed isn't friendly to you, the environment, or the developing world. 
Regarding the last sentence, it is important to add that local produce grown in season and local meat raised in an environmentally sound way are a true gift.  One of the most exciting developments in all of U.S. food policy in recent years has been the experimentation, initiative, and entrepreneurship of the local food movement as an alternative to the most over-processed and unhealthy excesses of industrial food production.  I could imagine the scope of local food consumption in rich countries doubling or tripling without any notable sacrifice in the efficiency of the food system as a whole.  It would be a good thing for the world.

The sad thing about Kenny's article is the road it takes to reach this final paragraph. Read the snotty tone of his exaggerated, overly broad, and fundamentally unsupported dismissal of the local food movement as a whole: "these First-World food fetishes are positively terrible for the world's poorest people."  What is he trying to say by throwing some German into his criticism of "locavorism and organics ├╝ber alles"?  These passages of the article are harsh and pointless.

I wish that the same writers who have the insight to write a balanced paragraph about environmentally sound eating also had the courage to resist the demands of our tabloid media culture. 

Update (9/20/2011): Classy tweet from Charles Kenny in response:

Charles Kenny . OK with conclusion to Got Cheap Milk but thinks middle is snotty. May well have point about middle.

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AnMB said...
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