Localized agriculture (update)

Back in June I posted about Zumkehr and Campbell (2015) Front Ecol Environ. In their article they evaluate the potential for the U.S. to provide a local food supply.

In the most recent issue of Font Ecol Environ, Zumkehr and Campbell receive a couple responses, which deserve attention.

The first, by David Cleveland of UC-Santa Barbara, is the most well-rounded and interesting. Basically, he argues that our food system is very complex and that localization isn’t always the optimal way to enhance all aspects of food system sustainability – with the goals of “healthy people, communities, economies, and ecosystems.”

The second, by Pierre Desrochers of U. of Toronto-Mississauga, and Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State, was more harshly critical. They criticize localization of food supply as inefficient, citing some empirical studies and “economic logic.” Their “economic logic,” however, seems to border on ideological presupposition.

Overall, these two comments are helpful for pointing out that we should not assume localization of food supply will optimize all (or any) of our goals. However, I felt that Zumkehr and Campbell were quite clear in the original article that the study was only meant as a first attempt at assessment, and mainly intended as a way to break new methodological ground.


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