Eating Local

August 10, 2018 at 8:00 PM
There's a lot to be said for "eating local"-- the "farm to fork" concept-- it saves transportation costs/fuel consumption, provides fresher, tastier food and helps support the local economy.-- but what if you live in Chicago (your diet would be limited to beef, field corn and soy beans) or Phoenix (cotton and oranges)??


California's central valley produces an overwhelming amount of our produce--and using up the water at an alarming rate. How long can they last? Once that valley goes dry and saline and can't supply us anymore, how will we take up the slack? How big will the green houses need to be to keep major metropolitan areas in more temperate climates in fruit & veggies and how much electricity will they require to keep up production? Can it be done or will we need to change our dietary style?


August 11, 2018 at 12:35 AM
Why isn't more land in the Midwest or great Lakes region used for vegetables rather than corn, wheat, and (the ever useless) soybean which are needlessly produced in excess?



August 13, 2018 at 2:04 AM
Good question.


Midwestern growing seasons only allow one crop per year.

Growing veggies is labor intensive and as things stand, it's easier (cheaper) to get migrant workers in central CA than in IA, IL etc-- although improved immigration laws could easily fix that. Eg- here in WI the dairy industry depends heavily on immigrant labor.

Once a pound of time ago, truck farms were common in the mid-west-- cf the Jane Wyman movie So Big about a widowed mother who made good growing veggies just outside Chicago.

The arrival of cheap refrigerated box cars made it more profitable to grow repeated crops each year in CA and ship them than to grow one crop here.

There's also the problem of fickle weather in the MW compared to CA. The Blackhawk War started when weather caused the Sauk's crop to fail and Blackhawk found it necessary to lead his group "off the reservation" to find food.

BTW- soy beans are not useless. They are used in an amazing array of industrial applications and, being legumes, serve to replenish the soil when they are alternated with corn (sustainability).


August 14, 2018 at 2:36 PM
Here we could get tired of Salmon, Crab and Apples.


Seriously, there are few climates that support year-around agriculture, and fresh produce is far better in taste and nutrition than frozen or canned. We get our winter tomatoes from hot houses in BC, Canada, or from Mexico. I grow my own in summer but it's a short season, and not much longer in our state's farming areas east of the mountains. Even if we could grow enough local produce, there is the shortage of workers to pick and process it. Our apple growers cannot get enough

people even at $25/hour, because it's hard work, and it's seasonal, and people want to work all year. In CA workers can move around and follow the harvests, with something ripening all year.


August 18, 2018 at 12:16 AM
There are some areas in the Midwestern states where a lot of fruits or veggies are farmed.


Indiana is the second largest producer of tomatoes for processing.

Michigan is a top producer of apples.

Michigan and Indiana both are top 10 producers of blueberries.

Wisconsin and Minnesota are among the top producers of veggies for fresh and processed uses.


August 21, 2018 at 11:46 PM
But all those are seasonal crops, and in areas other than CA, only one growing season per year. They can be canned or frozen, but that's not quite same as fresh.


If CA central valley is to poop out, how will we adapt?--We will either have to erect enormous greenhouses at great initial expense and to maintain, irrigate and heat them at great expense, or-- change our eating habits. Prior to ~1960, only seasonal produce was available in grocery stores, and we did survive.


August 22, 2018 at 12:41 AM
As the climate continues to heat up there are going to be less and less food plants that will grow outdoors on a seasonal basis, also there will be less pollinating insects/animals. We are already seeing both of those things starting to happen in the north. Everyone is going to have to adapt to doing both the enormous, expensive greenhouses thing and changing their eating habits. Non-essential, minimal nutrition luxury plants and/or those that use up and waste more water and energy than they're worth (like lettuces for one example) will be off the menu.


As a side note regarding the benefits of eating local, I was reading an interesting report a couple of years ago. Apparently people who stick to eating strictly locally grown foods (within 100 miles radius) are less likely to have seasonal allergies and have stronger immune systems that are more resistant to seasonal illnesses like colds and flu.


August 24, 2018 at 6:11 PM
Let's not get into arguing GW here- we have a rather fruitless (no pun intended) thread staggering along elsewhere here.... but your contentions probably aren't significantly true:


-plenty of research shows higher co2 levels induce improved water handling efficiency in plants
-higher temps improve biodiversity
-an increase of 2degF is equivalent to moving about 200 miles north at present temps--- is the biosphere significantly different 200 miles north of your present location? -assuming the biome hasn't changed n that space

-in regards local & immunity-- how did they find enough people who consistently "ate locally" and how did they evaluate their immune systems? I'm betting any study done along those lines is a good example of junk science. Their theory may or may not be true. I question the credibility of their methods.