Local is the New Organic Co-Opted Food Term
By Gordon Edgar
Fair Food Fight
I try not to be cranky when working behind the cheese counter but more and more the phrase, “local is the new organic” is pushing my buttons. Increasing corporate hypocrisy and consumer misunderstanding around “buying local” is one of the most frustrating things I run into as a cheese buyer for a cooperative grocery store. Even though this would seem to be a more accessible and understandable issue than a lot of other food trends, many would-be locavores have just as much misunderstanding about the food system as the average non-rural American.
First off, I generally agree with local food politics as far as it goes. Issues of equity are not its focus, but I will go along with it on the main point: supporting regional agriculture is crucial to healthy local economies and preserving farmland. There are many reasons that supporting local farmers is an important thing to do. I do it myself on both a professional and personal level. I am overjoyed that this has become an issue that many people who make the food-buying decisions are taking into consideration.
However, the fact that many populated regions of the country (and world) are not conducive to food agriculture for part of their year (even if not perverted by agri-business monoculture) has always left me uncomfortable. As my West Texan sweetie often says, “What was I supposed to eat growing up? Cotton?” As a lived-pretty-much-my-whole-life-in-Northern California(n), I try to not be as myopic as many of my people and realize that being a locavore is a lot easier in some places than in others.
That I can live with though. I understand that supporting local agriculture is a process, and people can do what they can.
What I can’t live with is certain people’s definition of “local”. Recently, through the wonders of facebook, I saw a cheese buyer at a large, natural foods grocery chain tell people about a new cheese they were carrying. It has always been a French cheese, but the huge French dairy conglomerate that owned the brand had opened a factory in the state where that employee worked. “… (F)eel good because you know you’re supporting local!” that cheesemonger exalted!
Read the full post at Fair Food Fight