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Food Supply and Climate Change

Last evening I attended a discussion between the president of the Trust for Public Land and Michael Pollan author of numerous articles and books including Omnivore’s Dilemma

Michael was engaging, insightful, and entertaining, and left me with a few thoughts germinating in my head (does that mean our brains are “thought gardens?” Hmmm…)

First, Michael is not what many might think of as a classic “tree-hugger”. He is a self-described “environmentalist that doesn’t like to camp”. His connection with nature has been through the garden. He talked of the disparity that exists in our land use. Wilderness is all well and good, but for Pollan it is the garden and the food we eat where most people have their most profound interaction with nature.

In a discussion about local farming and food supply, Michael talks of three practical reasons why a regional or local food supply is best, among them is the reduced carbon footprint of “long-hual produce”.

  1. While much of the focus on consumer level carbon production is with the car and basic energy use in household appliances and lighting, the carbon cost of that head of lettuce that was just trucked across the country from California.
  2. And as we all experienced not so long ago, there are health issues involved with such a centralized system of agriculture. As Pollan put it, “we’re all washing our salad in the same salad bowl”. Health is a second reason why communities need to consider a more localized food supply
  3. A third reason is nothing less than national security. For instance, with only four major meatpacking plants in the country, how hard would it be to taint a significant portion of the nation’s meat supply?

This is a blog about global warming and climate change, so we’ll focus on the first item. But nonetheless, here are three very good reasons to buy local.

Check out Michael’s website for reprints of many of his articles on food and eating wisely.

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