Synopses & Reviews
Eating locally is a growing movement that is good for your healthbut even better for the planet.
Everyone everywhere depends increasingly on long-distance food. Since 1961 the tonnage of food shipped between nations has grown fourfold. In the United States, food typically travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate as much as 25 percent farther than in 1980. For some, the long-distance food system offers unparalleled choice. But it often runs roughshod over local cuisines, varieties, and agriculture, while consuming staggering amounts of fuel, generating greenhouse gases, eroding the pleasures of face-to-face interactions, and compromising food security. Fortunately, the long-distance food habit is beginning to weaken under the influence of a young, but surging, local-foods movement. From peanut-butter makers in Zimbabwe to pork producers in Germany and rooftop gardeners in Vancouver, entrepreneurial farmers, start-up food businesses, restaurants, supermarkets, and concerned consumers are propelling a revolution that can help restore rural areas, enrich poor nations, and return fresh, delicious, and wholesome food to cities.
"Some people may ask, 'what's wrong with getting my food from some distant land, if the food is cheap and the system works?' The point Halweil, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, makes throughout this book is that those prices are artificially low, and the system is actually broken. Halweil's writing is journalistic in its reliance on interviews with farmers and activists, but the book's abundant statistics, graphs and suggestions for action lend it the tone of a policy paper one that is, nonetheless, impassioned and accessible. Halweil gives readers reasons for pessimism (the thousands of gallons of fossil fuel used to ship fresh greens around the world; unprecedented risks of contaminated food) and optimism (the spread of 'farm shops' across Europe; the Vermont diner that's thriving by using almost entirely local food); fortunately, his optimism usually prevails. Following each chapter is a short success story, such as that of David Cole, who jumpstarted Hawaii's cattle-raising and crop-raising business. Halweil makes a strong argument that a system dominated by 'globe-trotting food' sold in impersonal megastores is bad for the health of economies and people alike, while 'eating local' and encouraging regional self-sufficiency is good for both the environment and the human race. Besides highlighting projects already underway, which will inspire and encourage farmers and activists everywhere, Halweil offers ideas for the individual consumer (such as hosting a 'harvest party' at your home or in your community). Even when describing the decline of local agriculture, his tone remains upbeat. An essential read for those interested in the sustainable agriculture movement, this book may also appeal to general foodies and those who are concerned about the land and the environment." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A definite 'must read' for farmers, food activists and the general public." John Jeavons, author of How to Grow More Vegetables
"An insightful and timely book indicating just how important food, farms and rural cultures are to our increasingly hurried economies and societies" Jules Pretty, author of Agri-Culture: Reconnecting People, Land, and Nature
"Finally someone has put this all together! Brian Halwell has laid it all out in one place, with one coherent argument. Now it is up to the rest of us to do something with this amazing gift of a book." Mark Ritchie, President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis
Tracking the history of the distances food travels from the farm to the plate, Halweil explains how the long-distance food system offers unparalleled choice. But it often runs roughshod over local cuisines, and agriculture. Halweil also explains that a surging local-food movement is beginning to erode the long-distance food habit.
About the Author
Brian Halweil, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, writes on the social and ecological impacts of how we grow food. He lives in Sag Harbor, New York.