I was reading about sustainability on Do The Math and it’s pretty clear that most people don’t know what sustainable means in the long term. If we want to bring living standards of everyone on earth up to current North American standards indefinitely, then we have our work cut out for us, and the author was only talking about energy usage. Along that line of thinking, some recent news indicates other things aren’t sustainable, like how both the rich and poor eat.
Obesity has been found to be unsustainable in a new report, and at a glance, wages and BMI are inversely related (although there are some gender/racial confounding factors). But lest the elite feel that there’s yet another reason the poor should feel guilty about themselves, there’s another finding that locavorism isn’t sustainable either. The new book “The Locavore’s Dilemma” has a description that puts things this way.
Today’s food activists think that “sustainable farming” and “eating local” are the way to solve a host of perceived problems with our modern food supply system. But after a thorough review of the evidence, Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu have concluded that these claims are mistaken.
In The Locavore’s Dilemma they explain the history, science, and economics of food supply to reveal what locavores miss or misunderstand: the real environmental impacts of agricultural production; the drudgery of subsistence farming; and the essential role large-scale, industrial producers play in making food more available, varied, affordable, and nutritionally rich than ever before in history.
They show how eliminating agriculture subsidies and opening up international trade, not reducing food miles, is the real route to sustainability; and why eating globally, not only locally, is the way to save the planet.
I’ve read elsewhere regarding the unsustainability of organic/free range farming because of the inherent inefficiency of not using the least space and best technology, but won’t get into it in this post. I’ve suddenly become rather pessimistic about near term progress to improve the human condition. I thought I lived rather frugally considering what my savings rate is, but I ran some numbers on how much energy I use and it’s not good compared to the national average, much less an efficient lifestyle. Future posts may include steps I take to improve my energy usage/efficiency and that includes possible changes to diet or looking into using renewable energy. I never used to care very much about this stuff, but realizing that growth has bounds and those bounds may be closer at hand than we realized has changed my mind, and I’ll see about doing my part. It may turn out to be too hard or expensive or uncomfortable, but it’ll be an interesting exercise anyways.