I think this is a sad, interesting story.
Locally grown, organic food used to be the last word in environmental awareness. Not anymore. For one, organics have a negligible carbon impact (though exceptions might exist); eating less red meat is probably the best you can do to lower your carbon footprint. And locally grown food might not be a workable model, at large scales.
Mother Jones, the lefty magazine, just did an extensive feature, and it’s a wake-up call. It won’t be news to anyone that follows the issue, but it’s worth highlighting because the issue is so large and the organic myths have been so prolific:
“When most of us imagine what a sustainable food economy might look like, chances are we picture a variation on something that already exists—such as organic farming, or a network of local farms and farmers markets, or urban pea patches—only on a much larger scale. The future of food, in other words, will be built from ideas and models that are familiar, relatively simple, and easily distilled into a buying decision: Look for the right label, and you’re done.But that’s not the reality. Many of the familiar models don’t work well on the scale required to feed billions of people. Or they focus too narrowly on one issue (salad greens that are organic but picked by exploited workers). Or they work only in limited circumstances. (A $4 heirloom tomato is hardly going to save the world.)”