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The Locavore's Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet Hardcover – June 5, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

from the Foreword by Blake Hurst, president, Missouri Farm Bureau
“In large parts of the world, local trumps science, and people suffer as a result….  Desrochers and Shimizu take the idea of local food to the back of the barn and beat the holy livin’ tar out of it. In a more rational world, their defense of what is so clearly true would not be needed. However, our world is not rational, and most of what passes for thinking about food is as full of air as an elegant French pastry.”

Ronald Bailey, Reason.com
“Desrochers and Shimizu demonstrate that the debate over food miles is a distraction from the real issues that confront global food production.”

MasterResource.org
“Desrochers … is the scholar’s scholar. In an age where few read all important material on all sides of their subject, this professor stands out.”

Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy, sspp.proquest.com
“Desrochers … delivers a serious warning to the fetishization of local agriculture as the magic bullet that will solve our food problems.”

Bookloons“There is plenty of food for thought in this unconventional, provocative look at how we should go about feeding the masses. The authors…make some very interesting points and raise concerns that must be addressed.” NATURE Magazine
“The book’s strength lies in the cheerful ruthlessness with which the authors chal­lenge sloppy thinking, special pleading and the lazy logic that assumes that ‘local’ must be ‘best’"

Spiked.com
The Locavore’s Dilemma is an ideal weapon in countering the enormous quantities of metaphorical organic manure that pass for evidence in the modern debate about food.”

The Times Literary Supplement
“[The authors] are right to question the limits of 'local'... We certainly need a more sophisticated metric than 'food miles'."

Library Journal
“This often acerbic, thoroughly researched, yet controversial title provides much food for thought on the often oversimplified but ever complex issue of food miles.”


About the Author

Pierre Desrochers is an associate professor of geography at the University of Toronto who writes frequently on economic development, globalization, energy, and transportation issues. He was a research fellow at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University. Hiroko Shimizu holds a master’s of international public policy from Osaka University. Desrochers and Shimizu have both been research fellows of the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana, and the Institute for Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586489402
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586489403
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Fred's not here on July 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book hoping for an unbiased, critical analysis of modern agriculture and food production methods. What I got, for the most part, was a diatribe against the `elitist' local food movement and those whom the authors' refer to as "agri-intellectuals."

Pure and simple, this is a rebuttal of Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma. It pits ominvore versus locavore; Pierre Disroachers and Hiroko Shimizu versus Michael Pollen; farmer's market versus supermarket; local farmer versus agri-businesses.

The authors' would have you believing that the supermarket and agribusiness are under siege by the local food movement. In fact, all of modern civilization is in peril. "The road to agricultural, economic, environmental, and food safety and security hell, we conclude, was paved with allegedly fresher and more nutritious local meals." [Preface, xxiv]

The bulk of "Locavore's" argument is based on historical record and economic factors. From the historical perspective they ask: If local subsistence farming is so great, why is it no longer widely practiced? Answer: improved technologies have made it obsolete. from the economic perspective: a cheaper tomato at the supermarket is every bit as good as the expensive tomato at the local farmer's market. Tomatoes all being the same, the cheaper one makes more sense.

As a philosophy for feeding the world, "Locavore" makes some valid points. Subsistence farming as practiced in developing nations is nothing like the gentleman farmer's notions of living off the land; it's backbreaking work with little reward. There are worthwhile discussions regarding topics such as "food miles -- the distance food travels from the location where it is grown to the location where it is consumed.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Grennes on July 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu have produced an excellent book on a topic of great current interest. They ask what are the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining food from local sources versus more distant sources. This issue has been with us since agriculture was introduced in the Neolithic Period, and current issues related to the use of carbon have given it a new twist. The authors successfully use clear logic and extensive empirical data to contribute to an ongoing discussion that has at times deteriorated into emotional outbursts. The case in favor of commercial agriculture and long-distance trade is based on substantial differences in growing conditions within and across countries. By obtaining food from locations where production per unit of land is greater, consumers are more prosperous and land is saved. For example, cutting down forests to clear land for agriculture was a serious problem in the past, and it remains a problem in low income countries today. But the benefits of high productivity agriculture today have contributed to reforestation in the United States and most high income countries. In many poor countries (Haiti is an extreme example), much of food production is for local consumption, productivity of land is low, and deforestation and soil erosion are serious problems. This is one of many issues the authors address applying basic principles of geography and economics.

The book is clearly written for an audience of non-specialists. However, it provides extensive references for the benefit of skeptics or readers who want to pursue more technical aspects of the subject.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By HarveyL on June 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a very welcome antidote to the romantic notions of how "eating local" will help farmers, our health, and the planet. Desrochers and Shimizu show convincingly how the much-derided globalization of our food chain has actually been an essential ingredient in our health and welfare. Moreover, by providing the international perspective so often ignored by "locavores," they show how the system's expansion will be necessary if there is to be any hope for alleviating the food shortages still suffered in many parts of the world. Now, when I buy food from local farmers (during the brief periods when their products are in season) I do it only if I think their food tastes better, not because I feel I am "doing good." This book shows how trying to use morality in making food choices can be a very dicey business indeed.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. C. Pasour on August 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Pitfalls of Locavorism
E.C. Pasour, Jr.
Desrochers and Shimizu have produced an interesting and highly readable analysis of what is called locavorism--the idea that an ever increasing portion of our food supply should be produced close to those who consume it. Blake Hurst, a commercial farmer and current president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, sets the tone for what follows in the Preface to The Locavore's Dilemma. It is Hurst's contention that this book attacking the tenets of locavorism would not have been necessary in a more rational world. However, it is clear that the book was needed-- locavorism is accepted "hook, line, and sinker" by the current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture: "In a perfect world, everything that was sold, everything that was purchased and consumed would be local, so the economy would receive the benefit of that" (p.5, my emphasis). This ignores the importance of comparative advantage and trade--including international trade. Everything we eat in the United States, including exotic tropical fruits, can be produced domestically. Cost considerations aside, climatic conditions can be simulated for any place in the world! The practical question is which foods should be produced locally and which should be shipped in from other areas of the U.S. or other countries?
Locavorism emphasizes the shortcomings of high tech agriculture. At the same time, it stresses sustainable, organic, local, and ethical initiatives in food production and marketing. Most of the book is devoted to rebutting what the authors identify as five myths of locavorism: (1) it nurtures social capital; (2) it delivers a free lunch; (3) it heals the earth, (4) it increases food security, and (5) it offers tastier, more nutritious, and safer food.
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