Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I notice they don't do it in February...

This month conscientious consumers are eating local: consuming only things grown within 100 miles - thus saving humongous amounts of energy and pollution.

At its extreme, the 100-mile diet means no coffee, no spices and no chocolate. Most people don't go that far, but they do embrace buying food grown and raised locally where possible.

Freshness, energy conservation and contributing to the regional economy are among the reasons people offer for buying local food. It's a growing trend across the country. [More]
I think this is a wonderful idea. Jan and I relish eating "local" from our garden (ahem - Jan's garden) when vegetables are ripe. But unlike the many farmer's market fans, I don't see the need to denigrate the old supermarket, which oddly enough almost everyone counts on to be there 24/7 offering produce of all kinds every day.

Contextor likewise is troubled.
Estimated sales at farmers markets rose from $888 million in 2000 to $1 billion in 2005, according to a 2006 USDA survey.

There are now more than 4,300 markets nationwide -- an 18 percent increase from 1994 through 2006 -- where local farmers sell directly to the public the fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy and baked goods they have grown, raised, caught and made.
Wow! $1B! Contextor ponders the enormity of that number. Then Contextor thinks, "How much do we spend overall for food?" The answer: Americans spend $484 B per year in "food stores". Contextor takes a wild guess and uses 50% as the amount spent on food (as opposed to toilet paper and diapers and aspirin and light bulbs and...) and decides that the growth in farmers markets (about $100 million) is far less than the growth in food sales in total (about $10B). Farmer's markets will have to grow at PRC-like rates to just keep up.

Still, fresh local produce is a wonderful thing. We just don't need to badmouth the old reliable WalMart. Remember the temps could soon be -20°F.

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