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The Local Industrial Complex? Questioning the Sustainability of Local Foods

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Abstract:

Local food has become the rising star of the sustainable agriculture movement, but the link between locality and sustainability is often taken for granted. It is widely assumed that local foods require less energy because of the shorter distances traveled, but the methodological framework currently used to assess this question contains several flaws which obscure the relationship between food transportation and energy use. In this essay I critique four major assumptions underlying the presumed sustainability of local foods, then describe two competing conclusions that one might draw. It may be that local food systems simply need a more extensive and integrated transportation infrastructure to achieve sustainability. On the other hand, the production, transportation, and consumption of local foods are no less reliant upon society’s fossil-fueled industrial infrastructure than that of long distance foods. Local foods carry many benefits, but an exemption from industrialism is not one of them.

Author's Keywords:

Agrifood system, energy, food transportation, fossil fuels, local food, sustainability
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Association:
Name: Rural Sociological Society
URL:
http://ruralsociology.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p187174_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Mariola, Matt. "The Local Industrial Complex? Questioning the Sustainability of Local Foods" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society, Marriott Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California, Aug 02, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p187174_index.html>

APA Citation:

Mariola, M. , 2007-08-02 "The Local Industrial Complex? Questioning the Sustainability of Local Foods" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society, Marriott Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p187174_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: Local food has become the rising star of the sustainable agriculture movement, but the link between locality and sustainability is often taken for granted. It is widely assumed that local foods require less energy because of the shorter distances traveled, but the methodological framework currently used to assess this question contains several flaws which obscure the relationship between food transportation and energy use. In this essay I critique four major assumptions underlying the presumed sustainability of local foods, then describe two competing conclusions that one might draw. It may be that local food systems simply need a more extensive and integrated transportation infrastructure to achieve sustainability. On the other hand, the production, transportation, and consumption of local foods are no less reliant upon society’s fossil-fueled industrial infrastructure than that of long distance foods. Local foods carry many benefits, but an exemption from industrialism is not one of them.

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