This is in response to Brad Copenhaver’s column, “Local food movement neglects sound economics” (CT, Feb. 10). I disagree with the author’s opinion that local food “is not concurrent with ideas of economic efficiency and comparative advantage.” While we both agree that investment in local business allows for “keeping money circulating within a local region,” our opinions concerning fuel savings and Virginia seasonality differ.
In Blacksburg, a main source of local food is the year-round Blacksburg Farmers Market, located a block away from campus on Draper Road. The market requires that each vendor travel from within a 50-mile radius surrounding Blacksburg. In a conventional system, one pound of produce was found to have traveled at least 1,685 miles. By contributing fewer food miles, local food is able to decrease its ecological footprint, while often providing more fresh products, simply because of proximity.
Growing oranges in Virginia will not give a farmer a competitive price at the market, but neither will coffee, spices or chocolate grown in Virginia. These items are not meant to be grown in Virginia and therefore cannot be sourced locally.
For “locavores,” this does not mean chocolate or coffee are cut out of their diets, but instead, other alternatives are available. Fair trade and direct market products provide a way for consumers to support ecologically harvested products. Consumers do not meet their growers like they can at the market, but this is the next best alternative.
Environmental policy and planning major