Sunday, April 18, 2010

Volcanic Ash and Your Supper

I'm such a food nerd. I was reading today in the New York Times about all the flight delays being caused by the erupting volcano in Iceland. This paragraph caught my eye:

The disaster is estimated to be costing airlines $200 million a day, but the economic damage will roll through to farms, retail establishments and nearly any other business that depends on air cargo shipments. Fresh produce will spoil, and supermarkets in Europe, used to year-round supplies, will begin to run out.

And I thought, well this is just another example of how important it is to have a locally based food system. Air freighting food is expensive, contributes to global climate change and isn't sustainable as this disaster suggests, one thing goes wrong and you have a shortage.

Certainly it is a shortage of things that may very well be considered "luxury items" raspberries from Chile or Avocados from Mexico etc...so how real is this shortage, what kind of basic food stuffs are being affected is what I'd like to know? Anyway it's just the same old story you hear me going on about here all the time, the safest, most sustainable food system is a highly diverse local one not a commercially based, air freighted, monoculture one.

How brilliant would raspberries taste if the only time we ate them was when they were in season where you live?

How amazing would eating an avocado be if you only had one when you visited a country with a climate that could grow them?

It's a bit of a simplification, but shipping food by truck and train are far more sustainable and low impact ways of moving food than airplanes.

Is it so impossible to imagine returning to a culture where the only food we ate was local and when we did get something "exotic" we got it when it was in season in the place it was grown and it was brought to us in a way that didn't further deteriorate our environment?

I know terrible business model, but it's like the guy in the article says to all the angry airline executives: “What’s more important, the safety of passengers or business?”

What's more important, the health of our planet and security of our food system or business?

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