« An Economic Legend | Main | House Keeps Farm Subsidies, Cuts Food Aid »

Friday, June 17, 2011

Urban Farms and Energy Use

Ed Glaeser is not much of a locavore:

The locavore’s dilemma, by Edward L. Glaeser, Commentary, Boston Globe: ...There are many good reasons to like local food, but any large-scale metropolitan farming will do more harm than good to the environment. Devoting scarce metropolitan land to agriculture means lower density levels, longer drives, and carbon emission increases which easily offset the modest greenhouse gas reductions associated with shipping less food.
Last year, I chaired the Citizen’s Committee for the Future of Boston, and our report endorsed urban vegetable gardens. Super-chef and committee member Barbara Lynch emphasized the educational value of letting children see food grow and I agreed with her. I share the locavore view that local food tastes better (especially oysters), and that there is something wonderful about eating something you’ve grown yourself.
But while neighborhoods benefit from the occasional communal garden, it is a mistake to think that metropolitan areas could or should try to significantly satisfy their own food needs. ... Farm land within a metropolitan area decreases density levels and pushes us apart, and carbon emissions rise dramatically as density falls. ...
The connection between higher density living and less energy use is strong. Urban farms mean less people per acre which in turn means longer drives and more gasoline consumption. Shipping food is just far less energy intensive than moving people. ...

    Posted by on Friday, June 17, 2011 at 12:42 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (63)


    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.