My post cooking for climate change needs freshening here as sustainability’s body of knowledge keeps growing. As per Michael Specter’s well-researched piece in The New Yorker, it turns out that being a locavore — eating just things grown close to home — does not necessarily reduce our carbon footprint.
Come again? How could two Oregonians (my husband Thor and I) possibly drink wine from Australia and create a smaller carbon footprint than if we drank pear brandy from Hood River, just one hour up the Columbia Gorge?
The Australian wine may have been shipped by sea, which shipping would use one-sixtieth the fuel that flying it in would use. Its grapes may have been grown without petroleum-based fertilizer, and harvested and processed with low-energy methods. If the pear trees in Hood River had been grown out of season in a heated greenhouse, sprayed and fertilized to the nth degree and watered with water pumped uphill– then the pear brandy’s carbon footprint to us sixty miles away in Portland might be holistically bigger than the wine from Australia.
Holistic is the key word. Our culture trains us to think in compartments, not in a unified whole. But sustainability is always about the interdependent whole: everything is related to everything else.
A last note about food in general — while I enjoy good meals as much as the next person, I don’t think we should lean on it as heavily as we do in our culture for entertainment. If we invested less of our time and money on food and spent more time using our bodies for honest physical work and transportation, we’d be much stronger both financially and physically.