Source: Globelife

In her new book Locavore, author Sarah Elton argues that we need a local food revolution. University of Toronto associate professor Pierre Desrochers argues that globalization is the best way to reduce our footprint and feed the planet. Who’s right in this e-mail fight?

Sarah Elton and Pierre Desrochers

Globe and Mail Update

Dear Pierre,

I hope you don't mind if I call you a local food naysayer.

Right now, our industrial food system is not sustainable. It uses too much fossil fuel and is destroying the environment – we are eroding our soils, chemical fertilizers are destroying our waterways and oceans. The only way we can feed ourselves into the future is by cultivating local and sustainable food systems.

Dear Sarah,

I hope you don't mind me calling you an eco-doomster :)

Soil erosion and unsustainable agricultural practices were what made environmental activists tick in the first decades of the 20th century. But back then, the main fear among activists was that traditional agricultural practices were not sustainable. You might have heard of the dustbowls of the 1930s, but many people believed that the problem was truly worldwide at the time.

Fortunately, modern agricultural practices, especially innovations such as no-till agriculture that are based on the development of new seeds and herbicides, have gone a long way in addressing those problems. Modern farming in the best locations and increased international trade is the way to go to improve human nutrition while addressing environmental degradation.


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Comment by Kali on March 21, 2010 at 9:22pm
Thanks Emily, that made it much easier to digest.

Land is being bought up by overseas/corporate interests here in NZ too (because NZers can't afford it?), wonder where that will lead.

I don't like the quality of imported produce, eg. plums from california or tomatoes from Aussie, mangos from south america, they are simply tasteless crap , not worthy of the name food, because they are bred to travel and fake the looks, not to taste good at the destination. It is hard to buy a decent peach or apple at a decent price in NZ at times because the best are sent overseas, or they are picked so green to be carted around the country to be sold weeks later they don't ripen properly , how can that be nutritious?
Comment by Emily Harris on March 19, 2010 at 3:29pm
This debate is really interesting but quite long and all over the place. If you'd like a summary I posted one on my blog.
Comment by Pete Russell on March 18, 2010 at 6:12pm
Comment by Stillcookin on March 18, 2010 at 6:03pm
The very rich are buying up millions of acres of land and water in third world countries and building gigantic corporate farms. They think they will have a monopoly on food production. GM food production. I think I will keep growing my own food until they pry my cold dead hands off my shovel.

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