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Monday, February 1, 2010

Is Eating Local ALWAYS Better?

Matt Caputo of Tony Caputo's in downtown Salt Lake, read this article, where Michael wrote about eating local. Matt left a comment and made some really good points. I thought it was worthy of it's own post.


Thank you so much for shopping at Caputo's and making such a laudable effort to live more sustainably. Our regulars appreciate the same from us. In the last year we switched 100% of our electricity to wind power, started recycling everything possible and using biodegradable bags.

However, to automatically categorize something as having a lower carbon footprint because it is locally produced than something from Italy is oversimplified.

Many locally manufactured products utilize ingredients and inputs from all over the world (of course their are many that do not as well). Many of the products we bring from Italy, come from 100% sustainable old world produced ingredients and we ship them here on container ocean liners, which is a very efficient mode of transport.

A product produced right next door can have a much higher carbon foot print than something from around the world depending on how they are made and transported.

Pasta is a perfect example. Most pastas are dried by putting them into dehydrating rooms that take a lot of energy to run. On the other hand many of our Italian pastas are air dried the old fashioned way. Not only is this more sustainable, but the flavors and textures are not cooked out as easily.

Caputo's applauds your support of local, as we also give strong support to locals when they are producing amazing product. However, it is important to remain critical of local products that use industrial inputs and not give them carte blanche just because they are local.

In our rush to support local producers we should all remain vigilant in order to spot locals using unsustainable production inputs and methods. I have even been hearing troubling rumors from some local farmers and vendors at the Farmer's Market that some of the vendors are just ordering from national distributors and selling it as their own. Not cool considering there is little to no oversight of this.

Matt Caputo


Kenneth Moore said...

Excellent points. For example, any local meat production emits much more greenhouse gas than blueberries grown in Chile and shipped up here, just 'cause meat products require more energy/feed/land use/etc input than plants.

This is all about consumer awareness. If people care about the environment, just buying products with "organic" or "locally produced" slapped on it isn't enough. It takes only a few minutes to phone up the company and ask a few questions. If people want to be responsible stewards of the environment and of their local economy, they need to be responsible for what and how they buy, too!

courtneyb said...

This is talked about in the book "Super Freakonomics"

Kalena Michele said...

The guy who directed "Food, Inc." talked about this very topic and issue on The Splendid Table recently. Heard it on the podcast. It's definitely something to think about.

Summer said...

I live near a tyson plant. I see the pitiful broilers go down the street. is that local? o.O