Monday, December 18, 2006

Organic, Fair Trade, and Locally Grown...

I had been planning on writing a post about an article I read in The Economist while I was waiting for my flight to be canceled in Portland, but it looks like Drew beat me to it.

Anyway, here are my two cents. The Economists made some great points, especially concerning locally grown produce. For example, They found an interesting fact that more than 50% of fuel used in food transportation is used by consumers driving to the market. Therefore, driving further to buy locally grown produce at a farmers market uses much more fuel than driving down the street to the supermarket. As it turns out transporting large quantities of food in 18-wheelers is the most efficient model for fuel economy.

However, their arguments against organic produce and fair trade produce cancel each other out, in my opinion. On one hand, The Economists claim that organic produce is worse because it is inefficient and uses too much land. On the other hand, they claim fair trade produce doesn't work because it rewards farmers who are already creating an over-supply of their crops. Wouldn't going organic create some inefficiencies and stop the over-supply problems?

I am sure there are some pieces to the puzzle I am missing, but then again, the arguments against organic farming in the Economist did not take into account the massive algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico (caused by synthetic fertilizers) that is killing most of the sea life and destroying the shrimp industry...

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