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Old 06-17-2008, 07:28 AM   #1
Neal Winkler
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Default Don't fall for this reason to support local agriculture

I keep seeing calls in various places (e.g. Mark's Daily Apple and elsewhere) in the online health/fitness community to "support local agriculture." Often reasons will be given for buying local such as "the food is fresher and tastier" or "it's cheaper," which are awesome reasons but then it's always followed by something like "besides you should support your local agriculture/community" as if buying local food is an end in itself and not just a means to an end. So I went looking for reasons as to why I should "support local agriculture" other than the fact that they give me a product I want for a price I'm willing to pay, and I found this article which had an incredibly stupid reason to buy local.

Let's look at the reason:

(1) Eating local means more for the local economy According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction.

Wow, what a truly stupid reason to "support local agriculture." Let me get this straight, every community should spend as much much money as it can in it's own community because "it generates twice as much income" and the "money leaves the community" if you spend it elsewhere, which, I assume, will make your community poorer or something and if you keep doing it you will all eventually end up living in squalor. Ummmm, ok. How about this for an alternative: offer a service that other people want and they will give you money for it whether they're in your own community or not and every community will just exchange money with one another and you'll all be fine. Brilliant. The more people cooperate with one another and expand the division of labor the more wealthy everyone will be. If you try and live in isolated little communities where you don't share like a two year old you'll relegate yourself to the life of a serf in the year 1250.

Hey, I've got an idea. I'm only going to buy products that are manufactured in my own town because "it generates twice as much income." Ok, I want to go buy some clothes today... oops, my town doesn't have a manufacturing plant that makes clothes I guess I'll have to contract with a local seamstress. Hmmm, what else do I want, how about some shoes... I'm in luck! We have a shoe plant in the area... but wait... certainly they get the leather from one of those "evil" non-local communities and the rubber for the soles too! How dare they steal jobs that local citizens could of had! Don't those evil doers want to support their local community?!?!? Well, forget that, I suppose I'll have to kill a deer and make some moccasins for myself. Now, I was also going to buy a house but the wood at the local home depot comes from one of those evil wealth destroying non-local communities. Also, I'm pretty sure we don't make screws either. I guess I'll just have to chop down some local trees made out of an axe that I sharpened from local rock and fashion myself a log cabin. Wow, this feels really good to support my local community and "generate twice as much income". I feel twice as rich already.
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Old 06-17-2008, 08:23 AM   #2
Yael Grauer
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Have you read Michael Pollan? This is a really complex issue that needs to be addressed by looking at the whole system.
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Old 06-17-2008, 11:23 AM   #3
Dave Van Skike
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Reductio ad absurdum.

How about this reason...

it's stupid to buy something that has to be shipped umpteen miles when you can get a local fresh version of the same that doesn't carry the cost of shipping and the money I pay for it might go to someone I know.

I buy my groceries at a supermarket, I buy my beer at a local corner market, owned by a family. Why? because I want that guy and his family to stay in business so that I don't have to go all the way to the grocery store for a freaking six pack. And...he's a really nice guy.

I buy my produce from a CSA that has a huge party every year called the Hog and Grog...they roast pigs in the ground and serve sweet local beer and play bluegrass music.


These are the people in my neighborhood. I like them.
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Old 06-18-2008, 03:09 AM   #4
Allen Yeh
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Your 666th post....
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Old 06-18-2008, 06:50 AM   #5
Neal Winkler
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Yael and Dave,

I think you misunderstood my post. I wasn't arguing against eating local I was only arguing against a stupid reason for eating local.

Eating local is obviously better because it's fresher, tastier, and cheaper. However, eating local is NOT better because it generates twice as much income for the local economy - because it doesn't. Applying that logic consistently would lead to a decrease in the wealth of the local community.
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Old 06-18-2008, 07:31 AM   #6
John Alston
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It's often not cheaper.
We eat local because it makes us feel warm and fuzzy, because we like to enrich our neighbors more than distant folk, who might even need our money more.
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Old 06-18-2008, 09:58 AM   #7
Dave Van Skike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neal Winkler View Post
Yael and Dave,

I think you misunderstood my post. I wasn't arguing against eating local I was only arguing against a stupid reason for eating local.

Eating local is obviously better because it's fresher, tastier, and cheaper. However, eating local is NOT better because it generates twice as much income for the local economy - because it doesn't. Applying that logic consistently would lead to a decrease in the wealth of the local community.
Lucky thing we don't have to apply "logic" in anything remotely like a consistent fashion.

Now look what you made me do...I screwed up my perfect post count...I wanted to bail out of here with 666 posts.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:12 AM   #8
Neal Winkler
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What if the local farmer secretly beats his wife?
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Old 06-19-2008, 01:09 PM   #9
Dave Van Skike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neal Winkler View Post
What if the local farmer secretly beats his wife?
Sorry, I can't answer that. I'm only supporting local philosophy 101 students.
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Old 06-19-2008, 02:28 PM   #10
Gant Grimes
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That rant took a lot of energy.

I buy local when possible. The fewer Yankee fingers that have handled my food, the better.
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