cover image The Locavore’s Dilemma: 
In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet

The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet

Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu. Public Affairs, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-58648-940-3

A Canadian academic couple attempts a soup-to-nuts debunking of the local slow food movement (“locavorism”) in this daring, bare-knuckled, frequently sarcastic defense of the status quo in Western industrial agribusiness. From the point of view of the well-off, well-fed North American who does not have to toil much of the day for his subsistence, what’s not to praise in the West’s ability to provide the world with cheap, fast, uniform, reliable, bug-resistant, vitamin-enhanced food? After all, we’ve grown literally in stature and size thanks to the Western diet and largely eliminated famine (on our side of the world, anyway); the free flow of food across world borders keeps peace and allows most of us (who can pay) to consume all kinds of unseasonable foods year-round, requiring only a fraction of the fuel needed to keep the local energy-guzzling greenhouses running, they write. Desrochers, geography professor at the University of Toronto, and Shimizu, a public policy scholar trained in Japan, cite impressive experts, from Aristotle to the Hudson Institute’s Dennis Avery, to address the “myths” in what they consider the romantic, risible, irrational movement to patronize one’s local organic farmer: indeed, they argue, urbanization has brought prosperity; globalization wields peace and security; “food miles” is a joke; packaged food is safer than handling it at home; and the notion of peak oil (someday running out of fuel with which to haul all that food across the world) is an “untenable proposition,” since we’ll just go back to coal. A provocative take, to be sure, and one that will invite the ire of the 99%. (June)