Eat Local, Yokel

My Marketplace commentary this morning briefly discusses “food miles” and the “eat local” movement.

One commenter writes, “Eating locally and seasonally keeps more of the food dollar in the local economy.” But it is not the comparative advantage of some localities to grow anything. In that case, refusal to trade beyond local bounds will leave the local economy poorer. That is, you’ll succeed in keeping food dollars in the local economy only at the price of fewer total dollars for food and everything else. Please read Paul Krugman and Art Carden.

The study I mention “out of Carnegie Mellon University” is “Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States” by  Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews.

It’s pretty mysterious to me why the miles traveled by food in particular is thought to matter more than, say, the miles traveled by my Chinese laptop. Rootedness? Purity? How are your laptop miles, America?

Should we minimize our “music miles” and boycott bands on tour? Thankfully, our next-door neighbors have a band, Dead Larry. We don’t have to go anywhere to hear them.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center