Walk on Green

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loaded car

Tim Harford steps up to bat in the debate about the damage done by food miles, the distance and environmental cost of shipping food worldwide, with some new data from British economists, who find that:

flying fresh food around the planet carries an environmental cost of no more than a few cents per meal. That sounds astonishing, but perhaps it shouldn't be. Those Chilean grapes aren't flying first class: They're packed tight to save money, which incidentally saves on pollution.

Plus:

locally grown food has its own environmental costs. Academics from New Zealand have produced evidence that it is environmentally friendly to produce dairy products, apples and lamb in New Zealand–where there is plenty of space to accommodate natural, energy-efficient methods of farming–and ship them around the world. Maybe the New Zealanders would say that, but it's not a crazy observation. Eating local can consume fossil fuels too: [Local food advocate Bill] McKibben enjoyed berries in the winter because he froze them for months. Local tomatoes are grown in northern climes in gas-heated greenhouses. And local doesn't necessarily mean "natural": local apples can be stored for months–in storage sheds filled with nitrogen.

If you're really worried about how to reduce the social costs of your diet, consider this: "Two-thirds of the social costs of the food distribution system have nothing directly to do with the environment at all: They are attributable to accidents and congestion." So your picturesque drive into the city center to hit the farmer's market, or out to the country for leaf peeping and apple picking are imposing more social costs than my Chilean grapes. By extension, walking to the big "industrial" supermarket in your neighborhood may be most responsible food choice you can make.

More on food miles here, here, and here

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  1. So your picturesque drive into the city center to hit the farmer’s market, or out to the country for leaf peeping and apple picking are imposing more social costs than my Chilean grapes.

    Good thing people don’t have to drive to buy grapes. Oh, wait.

  2. Heretic! Burn Katherine Mangu-Ward! Burn her!

  3. Again?!?

    Seriously, what.the.fuck?

    You know, I have an irrational hatred of Robin Williams and Glenn Close only I don’t post about it on my blog every fucking week.

  4. So your picturesque drive into the city center to hit the farmer’s market, or out to the country for leaf peeping and apple picking are imposing more social costs than my Chilean grapes. By extension, walking to the big “industrial” supermarket in your neighborhood may be most responsible food choice you can make.

    But KMW, going to the supermarket doesn’t make it look like you care. So you’d better come up with something else, with the required appearance and no substance.

  5. No argument, Jaimie, just religious language? Color me surprised.

    Now, why would you call someone who acknowledges that walking causes less damage than driving a heretic?

    That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Oh, right, you aren’t trying to make sense. That’s just what you do in place of thought.

  6. You know, I have an irrational hatred of Robin Williams and Glenn Close only I don’t post about it on my blog every fucking week.

    Maybe you should. I’d read it. I hate those fuckers.

  7. Based on the license plates and the background scene, this is most definitely rural Egypt 🙂 (funny and sad)

  8. OK, Joe, you can either address Mangu-Ward’s conclusions, or you can STFU and come up with counter arguments on your own.
    I operate under the assumption — based on life experience and evidence — that liberals are almost always so blinded with “community” concerns that all logic fails them, and that you’re just another one of those fucking idiots.

  9. Boy, IKEA sure sells some crap nowadays.

  10. I think a far better expense of our thoughts regarding food procurement would be the fact that we have so many options, rather than weighing the guilt and the alleged environmental onus each carries with it. Western civilization has come far enough that we needn’t hunt, forage, and toil for our food the way we used to, and the way many in the third world currently do. It is also an even greater crime that many carbon fanatics support initiatives that posit humanitarian efforts in the third world, yet impose draconian limits to their industrialization, in order to maintain the expanses of pristine jungle and pastoral beauty in which they live. While these people would gladly benefit from the industrial revolution we have witnessed, intellectuals nevertheless insist on keeping the third world in a state of agrarian primitivism for their own sake and for the environment’s. Life is too short to quibble endlessly on how many carbon miles and what not are spent on shipping food, and what environmental benefits there are to eating local food. Modern civilization affords us the luxury to buy our food rather than grow and hunt it, teetering every day on the edge of starvation. Whether it’s Shopright or the farmer’s market, it’s all the same to me, just as long as they have what I need and it’s close to my apartment and it’s reasonably priced.

  11. If government is Kool-Aid, joe, you’re that big fucking smily pitcher that walks through walls.

  12. Katherine,

    In your honor I shall be sponsoring a vegetarian today.

    beef,
    chicken,
    ?????

    Thank you for the reminder (no matter how far removed from the topic)! I have not done this in a while.

  13. If government is Kool-Aid, joe, you’re that big fucking smily pitcher that walks through walls.

    OH YEAH!!!

    (it’s better when you can hear his voice but I don’t have time to find a good sound clip right now)

  14. Jamie, if you want to demonstrate that you’re more rational than joe, you might want to tone down the insults.

    Although you do get points for humor on the Kool-Aid pitcher reference.

  15. thoreau,
    I get angry because joe is so utterly, utterly predictable. When the guy’s not carrying water for the Democratic Party, he’s skipping along in merriment at how wonderful his big-ass government is.

  16. Actually, I find that analogy quite apt. In fact, I think joe should now post as Kool-Aid ?

  17. As long as no one is forcing me to shop at one or the other, I’m good.

    Now, on to the hidden subsidies both shops enjoy….

  18. Good thing people don’t have to drive to buy grapes. Oh, wait.

    If you stock up for the week at the supermarket, then you aren’t driving there “just” for grapes.

    Most trips to the farmer’s market are for a few things, and are in addition to your weekly drive to the supermaket.

    Even if you drive to farmer’s market in your Prius, the marginal fuel consumption attributable to your grapes is probably multiples of that attributable to getting your grapes at the supermarket.

  19. Good thing people don’t have to drive to buy grapes. Oh, wait.

    Oh, wait, but the real issue is Mr. Organic Farmer driving his grapes to that market in his qaint old pickup. Fuel used per grape?

    The cost of the grapes are tied in with the energy used to produce them. There is a good chance, albeit not guaranteed that the cheaper foreign grapes have a smaller carbon footprint.

  20. Wow, Jaimie, you are an angry, bigotted person.

    I did address her conclusion and provide a counterargument, you twit.

  21. Now, why would you call someone who acknowledges that walking causes less damage than driving a heretic?

    No, I’d call them a snob, and I’d call them an asshole if they pretended to have any moral leverage over a person who drives to the store to load up on a ton of groceries.
    So you go ahead and walk to the market, joey boy, and while you’re hoofing it 500 miles back and forth to get your month’s supply of food, I’ll be doing other things. Like being productive. But you worked for the government, so you wouldn’t know anything about that.

  22. Oh, joe, you had to ruin it by calling him a “twit.”

    You two are working awfully hard to make the other one look good.

  23. I think one of them’s afraid and the other’s glad of it.

  24. OOOOHHHHH YEAAAAHHH!

  25. Also, not sure what he did to merit the “bigot” tag.

  26. mike,
    Joe got me figured out. I don’t like black people.

  27. Paul, RC,

    Those are both good points. Rather than deliberately ignore all considerations of the impact of one’s choices, as Peter describes above, or selectively ignoring the consequences of choices that don’t support one’s predetermined conclusion while harping on those that do, as Mangu-Ward does in over post on this subject, it’s best to look at the entirety of one’s effects.

    One point to keep in mind is that those who point out the benefits of organic and local agriculture is that they are trying to increase the scale at which these endevors take place – increase the size of the market for those products. The economy-of-scale benefits, therefore, should not be treated as set in stone. Even on that particular measure – pretty much the only one by which conventional industrial farming comes out ahead – the gap between the two will shrink as organic and local agriculture expand.

    Also, I’ll point out that one doesn’t run one’s freezer purely for the storage of local berries, anymore than one goes to the grocery store purely to buy grapes. Like the fuel consumption for that trip to the grocery store, the marginal increase in fuel used to freeze those berries amounts approaches zero.

  28. Also, not sure what he did to merit the “bigot” tag.

    Uhh…he disagreed with joe. I think that’s what merited it.

  29. Another excuse to fire up the hybrid to search for the third critter in my vegetarian sponsoring effort today.

    I wonder if there is any dolphin available in Richmond?

  30. Hmm, looking at my comments, not seeing anything about Democrats or government.

    Somebody’s got some issues to work through.

    mike,

    I could explain how prejudice and stereotyping based on political labels is still prejudice and stereotyping, but it’s probably best to keep the “Jaime Freaking Out Because There Are People Who Disagree With Him” segment of this thread as short as possible.

  31. Oh, good, now there are a lot of people who’d rather talk about me than the subject of the post.

    That’s always so much fun, isn’t it?

  32. And in conclusion, read my lips.

  33. To be fair, though, joe has never (that I recall) called me a bigot, and I have disagreed with him plenty. However, he did claim that he had sex with my aunt, which was much better than the bigot thing.

  34. Let me remark again:

    It is astounding to me that Joe comes here day in and day out, post in and post out, to troll. Ignore the content of his posts for a minute and just appreciate the fact that he does this at all. His comments are usually designed to come off as witty or “cool” in some manner. Joe, you spend all day doing this, you aren’t cool.

    None of you are cool. Posting biting remarks and witty comebacks on an internet libertarian message board is not cool, not now, not ever. Why do you do this? All of you?

    Because you LIKE it! You like trading jabs with Joe. This is fun for you, don’t deny it. You like showing off and being cool in front of the other super-geeks here. Joe likes showing off in front of Dan T and vice versa. You are all incredible losers.

  35. I dunno, Episiarch, is she an AILF?

  36. My argument boils down to this:
    The organic-whole-food-public-market crowd is infatuated with itself and its own perceived moral authority over others, and they absolutely refuse to acknowledge that large-scale, global production of the food that sustains the planet’s inhabitants is inherently a good thing and — surprise! — efficient as well.
    Now do I go to the farmer’s market in Missoula, Montana? Fucking-A rights I do. Because it’s cheap and it’s good — not because I think my farts smell like organically grown roses, as almost everyone there does.

  37. So I guess the point of the article (and some follow-up comments) was going to farmers markets is phoney and hypocritical. Hmmm. Whatever. I go there because most of the time the produce just tastes better. If I choose fresh, picked-this-morning strawberries at the FM over the yummy-as-cardboard ones at Safeway, am I violating some “going to farmers markets is only for liberals” ethic? I doubt 1 out of 500 people at the FM I usually go to would say they are there because they care about the social or environmental costs of food. But don’t worry, it’s closed for the winter now, so I’ll be eating Chilean produce for a while. Happy now?

  38. It doesn’t seem productive to talk about a guy buying grapes or freezing berries and then try to scale up to the global economy. It would seem to be more convincing to start at the top – what are the biggest uses of fossil fuels and how can we reduce them – and then scale down to personal shopping decisions.

    One problem is that if you say something to the effect of “Every pound of steak consumed in the US required X amount of fossil fuel to be burned,” you’re implying incorrectly that if I forgo steak tonight, I will prevent the burning of that amount of fossil fuel. You don’t accomplish those types of savings/reductions at the margin.

  39. To add to what Jamie said:

    When you start micromanaging what you eat (something you need to do to live) based on some strange calculus of carbon production + green morality, you are a little too far down the road of obsession and religion for me.

    I don’t want to spend my free time trying to figure out what I am allowed to eat based on achieving the lowest possible “impact”. That’s not living, it’s hairshirting, and anybody who says differently is selling something.

  40. Interestingly, Chilean produce exporters have a lot of sway over the Chilean government, and have lately been pressuring them over the falling dollar. (Because when the dollar falls, they have to charge more dollars for their grapes to get the same amount of pesos.) The government, in accordange with their wishes, has basically pegged the Chilean peso-US$ exchange rate, taking drastic measures if it falls below a certain level.

    Unfortunately, this sucks for most people earning Chilean pesos, but it’s great for northern hemispheric grape, apple, peach, cherry and avocado consumers.

  41. goddamn – this is why we have prices.

  42. You know what they say about guys with small carbon footprints…

  43. Why do the realitively wealthy eat-local people hate the poor brown people of Central/South America and Mexico?

  44. mike,

    People who think about their actions’ consequences and change their shopping habits aren’t trying to drop out of the economy, but to change it.

    I know my personal choices are going to have an approaching-zero effect on climate change. However, several people doing the same thing can change the market.

  45. The consequences of one’s choices in this case … JOE … are negligible bordering on imaginary. It is moral masturbation for crunchy urbanites. And yes, I am generalizing, but I have some license, given that when I was younger, my family had to worry about how much food we’d have for the week – in which case, thank God for the local so-called “big bad corporate grocery store”. It was cheap and close. One big point I try to make to people confounded by the inability of liberal politicians to woo lower/working class demographics, is this kind of rhetoric.

  46. I really went organic last night. I ate some of the pheasants I shot last week; can’t get anymore back to the land than that! It’s pizza tonight, but quail tomorrow.

  47. What are you going to eat when our empire finally collapses? Bye-bye Industrial-Food Complex. Might be nice to have some local, sustainable food systems in place…

  48. goddamn – this is why we have prices.

    drawnasunder gets the win.

  49. It is moral masturbation for crunchy urbanites.

    Excellent! I will have to remember that one. That is a good line.

  50. Is not Joe’s game the oldest in the book? And yet you all fall for it day after day. I can play it too, witness:

    libertarians are just selfish!
    free markets caused the great depression!
    card and krueger proved the minimum wage helps!
    Bush created a recession with tax cuts to the top 1%!

    Ok, now everyone come after me! Call me a dickwad! I’ll complain and insult your intelligence. Next post we’ll do this all over again.

  51. Why do the realitively wealthy eat-local people hate the poor brown people of Central/South America and Mexico?

    Why don’t you ask a real bigot. joe?

  52. SP, you’re pretty shrill for a person who has it all figured out.

  53. libertarians have a religious faith in the market!

  54. If libertarianism made any sense, it wouldn’t get less than 1% of the vote in every election!

  55. One point to keep in mind is that those who point out the benefits of organic and local agriculture is that they are trying to increase the scale at which these endevors take place – increase the size of the market for those products.

    joe–I think mankind has already gone through this machination a few hundred years ago. They found out that everyone, consumers included, does a lot better when they can trade with neighboring areas and increase the value and health of their market. It hedged against the risk of famnine and provided a living to a good many people. The consumer gets a better variety of food, the farmer gets more for his labor. Why do we have to go through this exercise again? To satisfy the moralistic moaning of a small group of misguided people?

    To that end, if this is important to you, then by all means, spend your dollars where you want them spent. Put your values where your mouth is; I’ve got no problem with that. But have the localistas spare us the high-handed scolding. They can go back to farming shit and showing us the violence inherent in the system.

  56. Eating home-grown food helps the local economy!
    Wal-Mart destroys communities!
    Hate-crimes laws deter hate crimes!
    Ethanol is the future!
    The novels of Susan Sontage are NOT self-indulgent, overrated crap!

  57. Sweden proves that welfare states work better than free markets!

  58. I’m still waiting for the definitive answer on paper-vs-plastic in regards to total environmental impact.

  59. It’s a pukefest of projection here today, folks.

  60. Tip: You probably won’t teach someone not to scold by scolding them.

  61. Health insurance is a right!
    Without the Civil Rights Act of ’64, we’d still be hanging negroes!
    Public education can ensure equality of opportunity for all!

  62. We need Michelle Malkin bikini pics, stat!

  63. It’s a pukefest of projection here today, folks.

    Gotta have at least one thread go down this path…

  64. Peter,

    I’m not going to explain this again. You can reread the thread and discover that I’ve twice pre-butted your “point,” or not. I don’t care.

    Pretty much any opinion that relies on talking about which sorts of people one likes is useless to this discussion.

  65. Honestly, if you’re eating anything other than Ramen noodles, you’re committing a crime against humanity. Mmmmm, MSG.

  66. OJ didn’t do it!

  67. Tip: You probably won’t teach someone not to scold by scolding them.

    Will it teach them to leave you the fuck alone? I’ll settle for that.

  68. School choice and vouchers will lead to poor kids learning off the back of cereal boxes!
    The gold standard caused Krakatoa to erupt!
    Republicans wipe their asses with the faces of single mothers!

  69. carrick,

    Buy reusable bags.

    They’re also a lot more convenient – as long as you remember to bring them to the store.

  70. Teach someone to leave you alone by giving them more attention? Hardly. (See how that worked?)

  71. Buy reusable bags.

    Buying reusable bags helps save the planet!

  72. Republicans wipe their asses with the faces of single mothers!

    Alright Jamie, you’re just being absurd now.

  73. Buy reusable bags.

    Early in my marriage, we had to shop at one of the local “warehouse” food stores. They required you to “bag” your own groceries, and they sold these nifty cardboard crates that beat the shit out of any type of bag for carrying large quantities of heavy products. I can’t remember the last time I saw a store that did that.

    Those were the days.

  74. Particularly virtuous are those who kill, gut, clean, and consume their own Ramens.

  75. Rather than deliberately ignore all considerations of the impact of one’s choices … it’s best to look at the entirety of one’s effects.

    A rough and imprecise rule of thumb for measuring the environmental impact of your decisions is to look at the cost. Generally, though not always, the more something costs the more environmental impact involved.

    So, if your Prius costs more than a Corolla, even after factoring in the tiny amount of fuel saved over the Prius’ lifetime versus the Corolla, and you got it so you can make a “statement”, the statement you’re inadvertently making is that you’re a jackass posing as an environmentalist.

    Kinda like that line from the movie “Gandhi”, where a supporter asks Gandhi, “Do you have any idea how much it’s costing me to keep you in poverty?”

  76. Not only that, PL, but they have found a use for every part of the Ramen.

  77. I’m still waiting for the definitive answer on paper-vs-plastic in regards to total environmental impact.

    Plastic bags good – I use them clean up after my dogs.

  78. THE URKOBOLD WONDERS WHY REUSABLE SLAVES ARE NOT USED BY THE SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS RATHER THAN ENVIRONMENTALLY UNSOUND BAGS.

  79. The United Nations is a wonderful example of democracy in action!

  80. They’re also a lot more convenient – as long as you remember to bring them to the store.

    That doesn’t sound convenient at all. The bags they have at the counter, that’s convenient.

  81. Not only that, PL, but they have found a use for every part of the Ramen.

    Are these free-range Ramen we’re talking about?

  82. Plastic bags good

    There are important social impacts as well, being that it nearly impossible to find anyone with lighter colored skin than a plain white plastic bag.

  83. prolefeed,

    Too rough, too imprecise, to static, and too influenced by other factors.

    The Prius example, for example – most of the additional cost of Prius comes via brainpower, which has very low carbon emissions.

    Not to mention, the whole example of the “more expensive Prius” falls apart if you look at lifetime costs.

  84. JW,

    You can carry a lot more in each of the reuseable bags, which makes transporting them much easier. Like, one trip from the car to the kitchen instead of two-easier.

    I started using them, expecting it to be a burdern (although a very slight one), and was pleasantly surprised to discover that they actually made things easier.

  85. If libertarianism made any sense, it wouldn’t get less than 1% of the vote in every election!

    If Einstein had made any sense, he wouldn’t have been the only person back in the early 1900s who thought that E=mc2.

    If Darwin had made any sense, he wouldn’t have been the only person back in the mid-1800s to think that species evolved due to natural selection.

    If Jesus had made any sense, the mob wouldn’t have yelled for the Romans to crucify him.

    Yes, by all means, let’s discover truth via counting which viewpoint has the most votes.

  86. Guy Montag | November 19, 2007, 3:30pm | #

    Katherine,

    In your honor I shall be sponsoring a vegetarian today.

    I am sponsoring so many vegetarians that I now eat only endangered species. I bet you didn’t know it, but fresh baby panda tastes a lot like a cross between a whooping crane and a spotted owl.

  87. Not to mention, the whole example of the “more expensive Prius” falls apart if you look at lifetime costs.

    Not if you include the costs to decommission all the batteries which contain very high levels of very toxic chemicals.

    As hybrids gain market share and the economies of scale kick in, they may prove to be more cost effective than a straight gas-powered vehicle. But were not there yet.

  88. Rather than deliberately ignore all considerations of the impact of one’s choices … it’s best to look at the entirety of one’s effects.

    Like the dubious economics and environmental soundness of recycling every freaking scrap of paper? The missus insists on recycling cereal boxes. It’s just a bit much to take.

    Recycle when it makes sense, like metal and certain plastics, not because The Man tells you to do so, which is most often the case.

    I started using them, expecting it to be a burdern (although a very slight one), and was pleasantly surprised to discover that they actually made things easier.

    OK, that makes sense.

    Ikea has the right idea to encourage re-use: start charging for bags. Now you have a choice, pay it or BYO. It’s a nickel, and I don’t go too often, so I eat the cost.

  89. prolefeed (4:47): That was slam dunk!

  90. They’re also a lot more convenient – as long as you remember to bring them to the store.

    Shit, joe, I can’t even remember to take my bags back to Whole Foods and they give you a wholle nickel back for each one you reuse. 🙂

    Actually, I have a few reusable bags that I use when I go to Sam’s. A couple of them are big. But I see Albertsons is selling cloth bags now and they don’t look any bigger than the regular plastic ones.

  91. Too rough, too imprecise, to static, and too influenced by other factors.

    The Prius example, for example – most of the additional cost of Prius comes via brainpower, which has very low carbon emissions.

    Most of the additional cost of the Prius comes from a more expensive manufacturing process to produce the extra parts (batteries, electric motors, etc.)

    And that brainpower carries an environmental cost — extra engineers commuting to work, consuming oil, extra money for computers and lighting and heating of the workspace.

    Not saying it’s a perfect measure, but if you simply try to get good value for your money for two fairly comparable goods, you more often than not inadvertently benefit the environment by taking account of the aggregate damage reflected in the price. It’s probably a more precise measure than a layperson trying to calculate carbon footprints, and ignoring all sorts of relevant harms that the price reflects.

    Plastic bags are way cheaper than paper bags, and surprise — if you insist on bulky expensive paper bags, you’re harming the environment more versus thin cheap plastic bags.

    Price is a better measure of environmentalism, for people who don’t have huge amounts of spare time to spend researching stuff in excruciating detail, than anything else I’ve heard about.

  92. Whoever said Sweden is proof the Welfare State works, SP I think … take a long hard look at their past economic state, the stifling of freedom of speech in the country, the nationolization of all alcohol purveyors,and most industry, which has just recently started a rollback … not to mention their immensely high unemployment. This has all been fairly well documented. Are you joking!!! It’s also up there in the most suicides and the last country to outlaw state sponsored sterilization and eugenics (1976).

  93. Peter, SP is a troll-in-training.

  94. Peter, SP was being facetious.

  95. ^^^

    Heh heh heh. This thread rules.

  96. Peter, SP is probably EDWARRDDOOOOO.

  97. “The novels of Susan Sontage are NOT self-indulgent, overrated crap!”

    isn’t that claim a little excessive for the Carolina League?

  98. joe – I’m a big supporter of using your wallet to speak your mind. I just think that some types of micro to macro scaling present a distorted picture of environmental/carbon impact. For example, it’s difficult to get an accurate picture of the carbon footprint of one guy eating Chilean grapes. Speaking comprehensively about the carbon footprint of transporting food (via air vs. rail vs. truck) vs. the impact of growing produce in areas not conducive to those products, I think, presents a better picture and gives a clearer map to reducing environmental impact.

    With all that said, I’m not trying to imply that you don’t support approaching the debate using both strategies, or that setting personal buying priorities is not useful, especially in the aggregate.

  99. I am not sure what the problem is (I have not read all the comments, but the fact that there is too many of them tells me that people have strayed).

    If you want to eat local and find the supplier great. Buy local. If not, don’t. Environment? Well, those who believe that buying local save the environment should keep working hard to convince the rest that the environment needs saving and should be able to sell their product. If they do not adhere, well, nature has its ways at striking back (if indeed there is danger).

    (this comes from one who believes in “better safe than sorry”, so I am trying to do my part towards the environment, though that does not include eating local)

  100. RAMEN NOODLES ARE PEO-PLE!!!!!!!!!!!

  101. isn’t that claim a little excessive for the Carolina League?

    Goddamnsonofabitchin’motherfuckingshit!

  102. BREATHING OUT OF THE WRONG EYELID, AGAIN.

    TROLLING IS A SIMPLE GAME. YOU BAIT THE PERSON, YOU CONTRADICT YOURSELF, YOU REPEAT.

    JUST TAKE IT ONE POST AT A TIME.

  103. I half figured that had to be a joke. About Sweden.

  104. They required you to “bag” your own groceries, and they sold these nifty cardboard crates that beat the shit out of any type of bag for carrying large quantities of heavy products. I can’t remember the last time I saw a store that did that.

    Shopper’s Food warehouse in the east used to do this (maybe still does), but currently, doesn’t Costco also do this? Not selling you a cardboard crate, but having a pile of cardboard boxes to use to pack and carry your stuff?

  105. Ok, help me out here.
    1) On one hand we have joe arguing that certain ideas held by a fraction of a minorty may have a neglible system wide effect immediately, but could increase with time as the ideas permeate.

    2) On the other hand, we have prolefeed arguing that certain ideas held by a fraction of a minorty may have a neglible system wide effect immediately, but could increase with time as the ideas permeate.

    What am I missing?

  106. Rather than waste all the time/effort/cash buying either FM or Big Box each of us have been tasked to provide as much subsistence of our own as we can. Dig up your back yard, plant and harvest your own. Beat the rush!!! I grow my own and have successfully pushed down the prices for y’all. No shortage of potatoes in my house !!!

  107. Color me green !

  108. There was a column from some guy in Albuquerque who was advocating the depopulation of the desert so that the limited amount of available water could be used to grow food locally. I think the people in Illinois who advocate local food are pretty nuts, but growing more food in a desert? Come on!

    I’ve had to work on environmental issues a couple times in the past year, and I’ve been surprised: when environmentally sound policies will benefit consumers and companies a surprisingly large number of environmentalists will favor environmentally unsound policies. It’s like they hate humans more than the like the environment.

  109. hmmm I was pretty sure that the way markets work would insure that cheap food was cheap because it used less energy. Food producers and merchants like to make a profit like anyone else so look for ways to cut energy costs.

    Thank you Katherine Mangu-Ward for pointing out a study that supports what my reasoned analysis told me.

  110. Aside from all that, there ain’t a whole lot of locally grown produce available in winter in places like Buffalo, St Paul, Toledo, or Helena. Ground’s too got dam hard to stick a spade into.

    BTW, I’ll take my grapes bottled. Thankee.

  111. What am I missing?

    Joe is a fool and as a consequence anyone who argues with him (beyond just giving him quick kick once in awhile) is a fool.

    Understand?

  112. Jamie, if you want to demonstrate that you’re more rational than joe, you might want to tone down the insults.

    Nah, Joe is enough to make a Baptist preacher take the Lord’s name in vane.

    Maybe if he got laid his attitude would improve.

    Can we take up a collection?

    Maybe Nick could send him home with a note to his wife.

  113. I’m not sure if Nick’s wife would be too keen on jumping Joe’s bones. Even with a note from Nick.

  114. The astute Joshua Corning wins the thread.

  115. Hey Ammonium, we grow food in the desert all the time. It’s called the Imperial Valley.

    And, that’s how Phoenix got started. Farming. I know, hard to believe that some guy on a horse wandered down from Wickenburg and said: BO NAN ZA. We got water, fertile soil, we’re good to go.

  116. I don’t really care where my food comes from as long as it is more than not (no particular order):

    Cheap (mui importante!)
    Healthy (but DAMN DiGiorno is pretty good)
    Tasty
    Organic (mostly to do with freshness of taste)
    Fair Trade (or at least not made by slavery)
    Carbon-neutral
    Minimal reusable/recyclable packaging

  117. Cheap (mui importante!)
    Healthy (but DAMN DiGiorno is pretty good)
    Tasty

    This is what the bulk of the world cares about. Even then, a large part just want it to be caloric.

    Organic (mostly to do with freshness of taste)
    Fair Trade (or at least not made by slavery)
    Carbon-neutral
    Minimal reusable/recyclable packaging

    This is what wealthy nations who solved their famine issues long ago through *not* growing locally worry about. They have too many calories to take in and now wring their hands over the intangible minutiae.

  118. Hey Ammonium, we grow food in the desert all the time. It’s called the Imperial Valley.

    Isn’t most of that only possible because of irrigation that comes from massively subsidised Federal water projects.

  119. To Jamie and your minions,
    If you can’t respond to someone’s arguments with rational reasons and examples then best to get back to the sandbox. Why clutter up this site with these childish personal attacks?

  120. Isaac B,

    Even when the cloth bags have the same volume as paper or plastic bags, they end up holding more, because they are stronger overall, and also don’t rip if they get poked by a corner, like a paper or plastic bag, so they can be filled more.

    carrick,

    That’s a good point about economies of scale with hybrids, but there’s an even more important point I forgot to add when listing costs to consider: uncaptured externalities. As long as the atmosphere can be used as a commons-dumping ground, that will serve as as subdidy for less-efficient technologies.

    That goes for you, too, prolefeed.

    Iguana, Damn did you pick the wrong day to make that joke. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah!

  121. “This is what wealthy nations who solved their famine issues long ago through *not* growing locally worry about. They have too many calories to take in and now wring their hands over the intangible minutiae.”

    JW,
    The slavery issue is probably the more important one to me. Similarly, taxes used to fund the Farm Bill make me feel like a slave. Much of the other problems on the part of my list you point out would go away but for the Farm Bill.

  122. Ending slavery, universal suffrage, and free speech are what people in wealthy societies worry about, once they no longer have to worry about the basic necesseties of life.

    Therefore, they are unimportant. Or something.

  123. joe you should’ve read the entire post by KMW before you posted.

  124. Generally, though not always, the more something costs the more environmental impact involved.

    Except that carbon emissions and other environmental impacts are not part of the pricing calculation. E.G., because emissions are “free” using the high carbon, but cheap energy, that coal produced electricity would provide (as an example) makes many products cheaper despite the larger carbon footprint.

    By your argument, the industrial production process in China is more environmentally friendly than any other. I don’t think that would stand up against empirical analysis…

  125. Close, damned tag.

  126. By extension, walking to the big “industrial” supermarket in your neighborhood may be most responsible food choice you can make.

    Me, I walk to my neighborhood farmers market.
    Or ride a bike to the local coop which has a bias towards local produce/meat, organic, etc…

    My grocery bills have gone down significantly as a result. I am always AMAZED at how much more I have to spend at the local “industrial” supermarket to get a week’s groceries.

  127. New Mejican,

    Per KMW, you’re history’s greatest monster.

  128. Ending slavery, universal suffrage, and free speech are what people in wealthy societies worry about, once they no longer have to worry about the basic necesseties of life.

    joe–Without even considering your silly comparison (the size of your carbon footprint is equal to the evil of slavery? LOL), the U.S., at least, worried about all of these thing long before much of the population had what we consider to be the neccessities of life and long before when the U.S. was considered wealthy.

  129. The slavery issue is probably the more important one to me. Similarly, taxes used to fund the Farm Bill make me feel like a slave. Much of the other problems on the part of my list you point out would go away but for the Farm Bill.

    Me too. But honestly, how much of our food is produced through actual slave labor? Any?

    And no, farm subsidies don’t count, though yes, they should be taken out back and shot.

  130. “Me too. But honestly, how much of our food is produced through actual slave labor? Any? ”

    I hear it is possible to buy a slave in certain markets along the Ivory Coast for $40 a head. Cheap enough to work to death. Allegedly a certain large chocolate company buys its chocolate stock made from african slavery plantations…they are refusing to not buy from these plantations until a multi-year long ‘study’ they are sponsoring is completed.

    “And no, farm subsidies don’t count, though yes, they should be taken out back and shot.”

    I aminterested in the degree of ‘slaveryness’ not so much an either/or literal usage.

  131. JW,

    I didn’t make that comparison.

    “What we would consider” isn’t relevant.

  132. What are you going to eat when our empire finally collapses? Bye-bye Industrial-Food Complex. Might be nice to have some local, sustainable food systems in place…>>

    a very good point…what are ya gonna do with the left-over unsustainable 250 million people ,regardless of living locally
    In NJ they have 8 million people crammed into an area that didnt even support 2 million in 1900,who did eat locally..

  133. embutler,
    I don’t know if it is true, but there is a study from the University of Michigan which claims to show that it is possible to feed the worlds billions using the latest (not 1900) organic (semi-organic?) agricultural practices.
    http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=5936

    AFAIK Ron Bailey has never addressed this 4 month old study, despite my pointing it out several times and the greens crowing about it loudly.

    Additionally some greens have noted that in certain contexts it is acceptable in their opinion to import food from far away.

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