Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu say they know what’s wrong with the food system: local food purists. In their new book, The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet, the husband-and-wife team (a University of Toronto geography professor and an economist) argue that the excitement over this movement is misguided to the point of having “utterly disastrous” effects. “If widely adopted,” they write, “either voluntarily or through political mandates, locavorism can only result in higher costs and increased poverty, greater food insecurity, less food safety and much more significant environmental damage than is presently the case” [emphasis theirs].
Desrochers and Shimizu are not the first vocal critics of the local food movement. James McWilliams is well known for his early contrarian views on local food (and a resulting book about it), as is Stephen Budiansky, whose 2010 New York Times article prompted an in-depth debate here at Grist. Like these folks — and a whole array of others — the authors of Locavore’s Dilemma argue mainly that food miles are a misleading and often incorrect gauge of the sustainability of one’s food.