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Unlike a Globalized Food System, Local Food Won’t Destroy the Environment

Unlike a Globalized Food System, Local Food Won’t Destroy the Environment

Helena Norberg-Hodge

If you’re seeking some good news during these troubled times, look at the ecologically sound ways of producing food that have percolated up from the grassroots in recent years.


I am really concerned abut local food and I would rather eat that because at least I know what’s in the water. I try to check labels even on non food items , because I was looking at some things made in PA, and I worried about that water being used to create over the counter medicines. This was after reading about so many water issues on PA like, flaming water!
And if I drink a beer, I will only drink Guinness, as it seems that the water in Ireland isn’t as polluted here. I won’t drink coke because their syrup was being made in India, and I wondered if I would be drinking the Ganges?
Of course, I suppose that we all have to deal with packaging that says where the corporate office is and not where the water comes from. And of course I try to evade corn at all costs , as what am I eating if it’s all GMO? So, because of all the corporate awfulness, there are companies like Nestle, who steals everyone’s water that I would never use either. Local seems safer, but then NASA had to clean out our water----so maybe I am composed of jet fuel too!

During both WWs Victory Gardens produced 40% of what we ate. That can be done again. You can not get more local than your backyard. Industrial agriculture is the single largest contributor to global warming. The soil can hold 2-3 times the carbon as the air and above ground vegetation combined. Before the invasion of the plow, the carbon rich and moisture laden top soil of the Midwest was 6 ft deep and the aquifers were full to overflowing. The Plains supported 100 million large grazing animals, countless small herbivores, millions of waterfowl and other birds, their predators and scavengers including humans. The rivers ran clean year round and were teeming with healthy fish. Now the carbon poor and arid top soil and the aquifers are almost gone to feed unhealthy animals in concentration camps. Even the government recommends not eating fish from the rivers and lakes.
Individually we can all reverse global warming by growing our own and keeping backyard chickens and bees. All healthy and fun hobbies. We can eat grass fed and pastured meat, dairy and eggs and organic produce. You can accompany your meals with a biodynamically grown wine from fire ravaged Napa, Sonoma or Mendocino Counties and toast to an old way of eating. That way we can bypass our corporate owned government and support small farmers that are growing regeneratively. Our families will be healthier and so will the planet.
A government solution would be to discontinue subsidies to crops grown on plowed land and give those subsidies to crops grown on land that has not been plowed. With that kind of incentive even ADM and ConAgra would rapidly change. .


I tried no-till gardening for the first time this year in my raised beds and was very impressed. Just slapped 3" of compost on them and stuck the plants in. Weeds were reduced by about 75%, and I suspect it will be better next year. The other bonus is I don’t have to do all that spadework with my bad, old back!

Localism isn’t the panacea that it assumed. This blog-posts explains why

You do realise, don’t you, that Guinness is also brewed outside Dublin.

In fact the largest producer of Guinness is in Lagos, Nigeria. Guinness is brewed in a total of 49 countries.

Like many multinationals, Guinness has been accused of pollution

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Capitalism causes climate change and without ending capitalism your lifestyle choices has very little effect on global warming.

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We must support local and small family farms, not industrial poinson agriculture that is killing the planet (among other atrocities!) We mindlessly consume and but poison, support poison, eat poison and pay the price in our personal health and that of Mother Earth, AKA Gaia.

Giant corporations make the rules…write the laws, and the people pay the cost…their lands and homes are stolen and government by both “parties” is complicit…is THE mechanism of the thefts!

We can act to change our own habits and buying, but most is dominated by ignorance, lack of caring, and ordinary stupidity nurtured and sold by the mass-market media and the manufactured “holiday” consumption madness. While some, even many, profess willingness thay do not walk the walk, but continue feeding the monster and poison big-ag…as well as so many other crimes against Gaia and Her creatures and habitat…just too hard, right? Now is the season of consumer manipulations and stupidity to buy, buy, buy…regardless the cost

Boycott Monsanto poison Ag, don’t buy anything plastic (if possible) support our family farms and small business trying to survive…all that is needed is a conscience and the will…


While millions upon millions suffer, we have government Of, By, and For big-money and greed-driven vulture capitalist for-profit everything, killing people and a just, egalitarian, humanistic society…and neither political party really gives a shit, quite the reverse…


We can reverse global warming…WHAT have you been smoking?? Yes…growing our own food. Is commendable…I do this…or well a lot of jt …and my own eggs…however…there IS MO WAY TO REVERE GLOBAL WARMING. you habe not researched enough …

Actually, done properly it is.

It almost completely removes the need for transport. Passively cooled and heated housing removes most need for other hydrocarbon burning. Keeping green growth on the ground and building soil sequesters carbon and lowers carbon in the atmosphere. It also holds water in the landscape and moderates temperatures.

I’d start research with permaculture, Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton, the films of John Liu, Rob Hoskin’s Transition Towns, carbon sequestration, and the like. We just need to do an awful lot of it.

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A bit of research here. Keep on gardening. I read somewhere that gardeners live 14 years longer. I grow my own but do not smoke it. I make CBD oil for medicinal use and infused coconut oil for consumption. Been doing it since the sixties in Berkeley of course, mostly for others.

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Actually, we have a lot more control over what we consume if it is produced where we can check on it.

We Western people pretty much all have a lot of chemicals in us, but that has come from eating the produce of internationals, and very little from eating local anything. Of course, a local source can do badly as well, so it pays to check. We don’t do BRIX counts on everybody’s produce. But in the few places that I have seen it done, small local regenerative polycultures produce wa-a-ay more nutrition than what you find in the grocery stores. We seem to forget, but one way your body checks for nutrition is flavor. Think about how fresh and homegrown local product tastes.

And you can filter water. And you can trap rain, and that is normally very clean unless you are right downwind of something really awful.

And hey, here’s one of my favorite sources of seeds. Tell me if this isn’t fun: https://www.rareseeds.com/

These are interesting.

A lot of “localist” people do hold capitalist and even “free market” notions, subscribe to romantic nonsense about entrepreneurs, and see all this as being . But while localism can be capitalistic if we are talking about people’s beliefs, local production cannot be sustained under capitalism because of the tendency of capital to aggregate and the onus that “market” places on growth.

That works as a criticism of capitalism and some localistic ideas. It does not work as a criticism of localism per se. Despite the long years of propaganda, there is no reason that localism cannot be socialist in any of various ways. And the many motives towards localism are not really answered here.

What does problematize local production and does seem worth addressing here is the power of large capital and that of the state. These have traditionally and repeatedly been directed against smaller economies and newer sorts of production. And a not untypical effect is what has come to be called genocide, since this refers less often to the slaughter of a race than it does to the slaughter of a rival economic group.

People tend to forget that Walmart began as a mom and pop convenience store
That the Bank of America also began as a small local bank for the Italian immigrant community.
Within capitalism - small grows big or disappears.

But yes inside socialism there will be a fresh impetus for community-controlled local production for many (most?) things but obviously for others, scale of production requirements make some things more centralised and acts against duplication of effort.

But the real crisis is not the USA or Europe but in the developing countries where the Big Ag conglomerates are driving the local small farmers out of business, stealing land for cash crops and making migrants of them.,…describing it s genocide may not be too far off the mark

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Hi alanjjohnston??? WHAT? OH no, when I read that the original guy signed a 9,000 year lease in the property, I figured Guinness was safe. Oh this is as sad as finding out that there was no Easter Bunny when I was a little girl. Thank you for this… it looks like maybe this could be changing, but—sigh----I’m going to have to send an email, I see, about HOW COULD YOU-----GUINNESS?
Thank you. although it makes me sad. : (

Yes, I think that’s the principle. Small will require some sort of socialism, some sort of cooperative effort, to maintain itself. It is not something that will derive from market principles.

Yes, I’d agree that some things need to be transported over distance. There’s just not that many. And I see particular advantages in transporting information. We had balkanized societies once and fell into our current difficulties in large part because of the provinciality that accompanied that.

Small scale low-meat organic permaculture sequesters carbon, reducing catastrophic climate change, and is more resilient in the face of the extreme weather that climate catastrophe is causing. It’s one of the main tools in the work to avoid cataclysm; we need to do everything we can to move back to it.

In northern New Mexico, we are blessed with an army of small farmers (many of them Organic or Integrated Pest Management) working a few acres each - with one or more family members working outside employment to support the effort - for little or no financial reward. They maintain the fertility of the land and keep precious (in a semiarid environment) water rights attached to land for future generations.

A network of farmers markets and local businesses that buy their products, including many restaurants and even school systems - through Farm to Table programs -, help distribute their products to local populations. All of the people involved in this effort should be hailed as heroes.