Just Food

Friday, July 16, 2010

James McWilliams challenges conventional views about what it means to eat ethically, and cuts through myths and misinformation. In Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, he helps us determine what to eat and how our choices can help save the planet and feed the world.


James McWilliams
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Comments [16]

JP from NJ

dboy from nyc,

You can start by telling asking congress rep why The Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752 and H.R. 1826) is not law yet. It’s a bipartisan bill that I think originated back in 2009. Its not perfect but its more then a start to help get all special interests groups out of elections.

Jul. 16 2010 01:46 PM
dboy from nyc

JP from NJ,

Where do we start?

I'm on board!!!

D.C. dollars seem to be the heart of all evil.

Jul. 16 2010 01:28 PM
JP from NJ

dboy from nyc ,

I agree. But nothing will ever happen unless you completely abolish the farm bill or at the very least completely rewrite it. Unfortunately that will never happen considering the farm bill is the most heavily lobbied bill out there. Outlaw all lobbyists ability to bribe congress with campaign finance and you’d solve that problem and probably just about most of the problems in this country today

Jul. 16 2010 01:22 PM

James, You mention that when you do a full LCA for food, that transportation comes out to only 20% of the impacts.

There's another real problem with our sense of proportion like that. The way LCA measures are conventionally defined anyway, they count only the impacts for the technology stream that contributes to products... That actually accounts for only 10% to 50% of the real total. You can discover that by comparing LCA's with the implied impacts per $ for average spending, using the global resource per dollar to do the estimate...

For details see the following study for a simple wind farm showing LCA as 20% of the carefully estimated total.

What's the hiding place?? It's in the commerce, business services, employee salaries, and investment, government and legal costs etc. etc. The system that runs the technology causes by far the bigger share of the real impacts on the earth that you pay for with any purchase.

What it comes down to is a major paradigm shift, if the social networks were not so strongly opposing it. If your impacts are much the same per dollar, no matter what you buy, then your total impacts on the earth are most directly proportional to what you earn, since that is what determines how much you spend. It's not importantly your choices on what to spend on at all. Hi income high impact, that's it.

So then what?? If your impacts on the earth depend on how much you earn, is it more important to earn less or to use what you do spend on to accomplish something of lasting value? Well, apparently both.

That's the physical reality, I think quite accurately portrayed, and now we have to ask why our cultural realities are so far off in a bubble of their own, how did they get there and what does that means for the rest of our schemes for the earth?

Phil Henshaw NY NY

Jul. 16 2010 01:21 PM
dboy from nyc

In the same way that the subsidy of the industrial model produced more cheap, low quality calories, the subsidy of a more responsible model will produce cheaper, healthier alternative. Simply, do not preclude the responsible model in the subsidy process. Establish a fair playing field and allow the conservative concept of competition to run it's course. Let's see who prevails!

Jul. 16 2010 01:08 PM
Michelle from Nyc

Gosh, Lenny is really taking this guy to task with his questioning. Personally, I do think the local movement is elitist in it's views. People in lower incomes often don't have access to higher quality foods in their neighborhoods is just one issue. Rather than focusing on what the individual is doing, I wish there was more public outcry of the Food Industry in this country and how it does it's business supplying food the country.

Jul. 16 2010 01:05 PM
JP from NJ

Sunny Ozell ,

Your way over simplifying history and the reality of today. At the turn of the century the USA had a third of the population of today and 50% of the population worked in AG. The world has a lot more people today and AG labor is a lot more complicated market then back 100 years ago.

Jul. 16 2010 01:04 PM
dboy from nyc

The issue of gov't. subsidization of industrial food is one of the major problems. It goes back to the Nixon administration and Earl Butz' jump start of the industrial food model.

Change the model and you change the diet, the environment and the health of the population. More, cheap calories does not equal quality calories.

Jul. 16 2010 01:01 PM

Small point but whole grains? Why don't you talk about how a wheat from the field becomes that creepy powdery white flour people are eating? That can't be anything nice. I'd rather have supermarket chicken than flour and the things that pass for "whole grains" these days.

Jul. 16 2010 12:59 PM
Sunny Ozell

I can't but feel that this fellow is just being a contrarian. The world did just fine with "elitist" local, sustainable agriculture until this past century. "Maintaining our population numbers"? "Keeping people well-fed"? It would seem to me that there's too many of us in the first place if we need massive, environmentally ruinous industrial farms to maintain the egregious calorie needs of a calorie-addicted country.

Jul. 16 2010 12:57 PM
Samantha from bklyn

I don't understand this guy's problem with eating locally in the US. The lack of enough calories is a problem in other countries, not our own and much of that problem is exacerbated by the policies of big agribusiness that prefers to overproduce in the US for export and cripple the production in other countries. I'm really confused about what this guy's point is besides just jabbing at 'elites'.

Jul. 16 2010 12:55 PM
dboy from nyc

It's a great pursuit... if you're rich.

This is a very disturbing notion!

Jul. 16 2010 12:54 PM
JP from NJ

Leonard, how do you grow sustainable food in Las Vegas, still one of the fastest growing cities and in the middle of the desert?

Jul. 16 2010 12:51 PM
dboy from nyc

Interesting, nuanced discussion. Very important issues. Thanks for the pragmatic view.

Jul. 16 2010 12:49 PM
dboy from nyc

So-called "terroir" produce is in rapid decline, even in Italia and France. It has been so for the last 30 years.

It ain't so romantic any more. Talk to Carlo Petrini.

Jul. 16 2010 12:47 PM
Jon from Harlem

I agree that it is unreasonable to ask poor people to voluntarily pay more for ethical food. Instead, what we should do is price food according to its true cost. Basically, food is expensive. The only way to make it cheap is to cheat the environment and cheat our grandchildren's world.

Jul. 16 2010 12:46 PM

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