Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Interesting Fact of the Day

From the article "Got Cheap Milk?: Why Ditching Your Fancy, Organic, Locavore Lifestyle is Good for the World's Poor," in Foreign Policy (emphasis mine):

"What about [eating] "local"? Perhaps locally grown produce tastes better to some people. And perhaps it is psychologically better to have close contact with the people who grow your food. But that doesn't make it good for the environment.

For example, it is twice as energy efficient for people in Britain to eat dairy products from New Zealand than from domestic producers. It is four times more energy efficient for them to eat lamb shipped from the other side of the world than it is to eat British lamb.

That's because transporting the final product accounts for only a small part of the energy consumed in the production and delivery of food. It's far better to eat foods from places where production itself is more efficient. For example, New Zealand cattle eat clover from the fields while British livestock tend to rely on feed -- which itself is often imported."

HT: NCPA

9 Comments:

At 9/21/2011 8:40 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Yes, if economic efficiency is the only concern: just buy from your market and let it figure it out. Of course, other people like to vote with their wallets for other things.

 
At 9/21/2011 8:44 AM, Blogger KipEsquire said...

But of course, there is a difference between "voting with your wallet" and rent-seeking undue privileges for your industry under the guise of appealing to "more enlightened values."

 
At 9/21/2011 9:10 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

while i heartily agree that the locavore ideology makes no sense at all from a "save the world" standpoint, there are reasons to eat local food.

grab a tomatoe out of your garden and taste it next to one shipped from argentina.

the difference is staggering.

shipped tomatoes are picked green and ripen in transit. thus, they taste like cardboard and have lower nutritional content.

the fresh lamb we get here from a local ranch is amazing. it makes the stuff at whole foods taste terrible in comparison.

the same is true of fresh fish right off a dock as opposed to fish shipped from halfway across the world.

i'm happy to pay more for the better products.

but it's certainly not saving the world, just making dinner tastier (and in some cases more nutritious).

 
At 9/21/2011 9:22 AM, Blogger Innovation rules said...

Canada also revamped their SS in the 80s, although it wasn't privatized.

They run it within the government according to insurance level risk guidelines and rules, if I understand correctly.

It may not be optimable, but it is fundamentally better than the Ponzi structure we insist on here.

Fiddling with the current structure will primarily include ever more progressive redistribution providing no ROI, which is stupid.

 
At 9/21/2011 11:10 AM, Blogger Matus1976 said...

It is also worth considering that local grown produce is subjected to local disturbances and is more likely to result in famines. A bad season used to kill thousands. A global production system can easily absorb local disturbances to production by shifting small percentages of food through the myriad of voluntary buyers / sellers.

 
At 9/21/2011 12:36 PM, Blogger Seth said...

Sean - Not 'economic' efficiency. 'Energy' efficiency. If one reason you are buying local is because you think it is more energy efficient, you're probably wrong.

 
At 9/21/2011 12:53 PM, Blogger juandos said...

'That's because transporting the final product accounts for only a small part of the energy consumed in the production and delivery of food'...

OMG! Don't the Brits know how to raise and care for milk cows or sheep?

morganovich brings up some interesting examples of why buying or 'producing' locally has some upsides that price will never beat...

I burn up a gallon of gas ($3.05/gal this morning) going round trip to buy what I consider the best beefsteak tomatoes on the planet (maybe even the universe) that are the size of a softball and cost a nickle apiece...

Tomatoes from grocery chains don't really taste any different than iceberg lettuce or carrots which have all been bred to look good and have a long shipping and shelf life...

 
At 9/21/2011 8:43 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


A global production system can easily absorb local disturbances to production by shifting small percentages of food through the myriad of voluntary buyers / sellers.

While at the same time lowering the overall quality of the product. Flood enough of that lower-quality product in, and you get a case of force-by-practicality handed right to you.

A dairy product from NZ is going to have to travel an unreal distance to reach the UK - and have less time until spoilage versus a UK or EU sourced dairy product.

 
At 9/22/2011 1:13 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"A dairy product from NZ is going to have to travel an unreal distance to reach the UK - and have less time until spoilage versus a UK or EU sourced dairy product"...

On the face of it it seems counter intuitive doesn't it sethstorm?

I wonder if the food stuffs are given a gamma ray dose to retard spoilage?

 

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