Filed under: Food + Health, J500 Week 3, Society + Media | Tags: agriculture, healthy living, local business, local food, trends
Local agriculture and business are reaching new levels of popularity right now. Part of the modern sustainability movement is, for a variety of reasons, increasing consumption of local products. Part of this has to do with reducing the carbon footprint of the agriculture industry, by increasing demand for items that do not have to travel as far to be sold. Economically, it also supports the efforts of smaller farms and merchants, reducing the stranglehold that large producers and distributors have on the food industry. And from a health perspective, foods produced with a smaller market in line do not typically have the horrendous amount of preservatives, growth hormones, and other strange things that foods produced for a massive distribution do.
The only major knock against local foods that I give any credence is that they are popular now because it is trendy. You sound so much healthier and more conscious of the shady practices of major food producing companies, and some people will find that out and use it to feel cool. That being said, this is one of those cases where I have to say “So what?”
Like any trend, the cultural shift in the favor of local foods (one which is still taking place, slowly but surely), can be exploited not just by those demanding to be cool at all times, but by business interests who know that those same people often have a lot of extra money to shill out for things with words like “local” and “organic” plastered on the packaging.
Regardless of the motivations some people have in supporting local food producers, and who finds the easiest way to make a buck off of them, the truths about locally-grown and distributed foods, the benefits mentioned earlier stand. Economic uncertainty pervades our culture, so knowing that we can help our neighbors succeed is comforting. Obesity is the great new American stereotype, so finding foods that don’t contribute to that is always exciting. And then there are people like the contributors to Lawrence’s own Localvores blog whose passion for local food production just makes me feel bad for passing it over sometimes.
So for those reasons, I hold back the cynicism. Time will tell how much this effects our health, economy, and indeed American culture in the long run. In the short term, the trend really can’t hurt too much.
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