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

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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 (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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,
“Desrochers and Shimizu demonstrate that the debate over food miles is a distraction from the real issues that confront global food production.”
“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,
“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’"
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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Customer Reviews

Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu have produced an excellent book on a topic of great current interest.
Thomas Grennes
Unfortunately, the authors of this book seem to have determined to mostly ignore it, perhaps because much of it goes against their own ideological assumptions.
That said, I don't know what it is about economists (or in this case, two economic policy analysts as they call themselves).
P. Troutman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 24 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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27 of 34 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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6 of 6 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas R. Degregori on December 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Food activism has generated a confusing plethora of overlapping movements and designations - locavores, foodies, natural food advocates, raw food ("eating closer to nature")proponents, Steinerites (or whatever the biodynamic followers of Rudolf Steiner and Demeter call themselves),anti-GM campaigners, vegans, vegetarians (at least those who seek to proselytize it),those who take Michael Pollan's pithy aphorisms as profound truths, those who eat organic whenever possible and condem "industrial agriculture" (it must be transformed or abolished) and monoculture, and a host of others far too many to name. Except for the rules for certification for organic agriculture, there is no set of rules which govern or define these movements. But it would be nice to have some proponents lay out an array of their guiding principles and a coherent explanation and defense of them. It can be argued that activists movements need not have dictated principles for all to follow but then they abdicate the right to critisize those who do not hit their personal list precisely. As someone who reads extensively on these subjects, it has been my personal observation that the media treats these various foodie manifestations favorably and uncritically accepts their claims of being healthier, more nutritious, tastier and more sustainable as undisputable facts. Food writers whose task historically has been to rate restaurants and/or give us delicious recipes feel free to pronounce on sustainable agriculture of local farms along with a host of issues of agronomy and nutrition and editors treat these sections of their publication as not being in need of oversight, fact-checking or any form of verification or validation.Read more ›
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