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The Locavore's Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet

3.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  147 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Today’s food activists think that "sustainable farming" and "eating local" are the way to solve a host of perceived problems with our modern food supply system. But after a thorough review of the evidence, Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu have concluded that these claims are mistaken. In The Locavore’s Dilemma they explain the history, science, and economics of food su ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by PublicAffairs (first published May 29th 2012)
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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanIn Defense of Food by Michael PollanThe Dirty Life by Kristin KimballFarm City by Novella Carpenter
Locavore Reading List
59th out of 59 books — 195 voters
Salt Sugar Fat by Michael MossFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserDiet for a New America by John RobbinsWheat Belly by William  DavisThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Food and the Food Industry
51st out of 63 books — 18 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 417)
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Mar 28, 2014 anexactinglife rated it really liked it
I've always had questions about the local food movement.

I've been trying to eat local for several years now. I changed my ways in two stages: first, I stopped eating most processed foods, and then I tried switching to more local alternatives. Sometimes it works fine. For example, I eat frozen berries in the winter, so I make a point of buying wild Nova Scotia blueberries instead of imported raspberries. To the extent I can afford it, I bake with honey or maple syrup instead of cane sugar.

I suppo
Jul 14, 2012 Fred rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-self
Why does it have to be one or the other? I picked up this book hoping for an unbiased, critical analysis of modern agriculture and food production methods. What I got, for the most part, was a diatribe against the ‘elitist’ local food movement and those whom the authors' refer to as “agri-intellectuals.”

Pure and simple, this is a rebuttal of Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma. It pits ominvore versus locavore; Pierre Disroachers and Hiroko Shimizu versus Michael Pollen; farmer’s market versus
Feb 15, 2013 Andy rated it did not like it
So why 1 star? Because I am sick and tired of people using "intellectual" as a bad word. The authors do this over and over throughout the book. This is dangerously stupid. Anti-intellectualism is the hallmark of totalitarianism, not enlightening discourse. Professors attacking intellectuals are dishonest or ignorant or both; in any case they lose credibility.

This is a bizarre book. I'm OK with it being somewhat biased; it's telling the "other side" of an issue that has mutiple books on the first
Feb 13, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
A little context: I fall under Desrochers's locavore label and I'm training to start my own farm soon.

The Locavore's Dilemma made me angry for pretty much the duration of my read. It's not because any information in the book was incorrect. If you look at food as Desrochers does, then his arguments about industrial agriculture are valid: it improves our use of resources; it makes food safer; it allows for prosperity. But food is far too complex a subject for mathematical analysis to suffice an a
Feb 26, 2014 Eugene rated it did not like it
I had high hopes when I picked up this book. Given that it has been established that selecting a diet simply based on the proximity of production is somewhat foolhardy, I was looking for some further expansion on this theme. Unfortunately, the arguments put forward by the authors are simply the same that you likely already have heard or are just plainly intuitive. Some of the ones that are pounded home most incessantly include:

1) It's simply more efficient to produce certain crops in certain pla
Jun 19, 2012 Jani-Petri rated it really liked it

Very good discussion and critique of local food fad. Puts the food production in the proper historical context by highlighting the reasons why things are done the way they are. Shallowness of the arguments by local food gurus and protectionist lobbyists is clearly exposed. This book celebrates the abundance, safety and affordability of our food and makes it clear how remarkable achievement it actually is. A fact all too easily forgotten in the middle of wealthy western lifestyle.
Dec 04, 2012 James rated it did not like it
Among other topics, the book addresses various fossil fuel issues with regard to food security, safety, quality, sustainability..., but it doesn't do so very honestly, or from a very well informed perspective.

The one good point the book makes is that transport is a much smaller fraction of fossil fuel input than production in conventional industrial food production -- averaging perhaps somewhere just under twenty percent. So "food miles" aren't just a problem because of transport. Point taken.
Ian Walford
Sep 02, 2012 Ian Walford rated it it was amazing
A very interesting and timely book that makes you reconsider a lot of popular opinions and "facts" about eating locally.

The movement to eat locally and organically is continually growing and I have seen reputable mainstream media articles unequivocally pushing the concept as a sure-fire way to improve both your own health as well as the environment.

Like almost everything in life, the issue isn't black or white. The authors present numerous relevant and interesting examples, drawn from both histo
Jun 07, 2012 Danielle rated it liked it
I have read any number of books such as Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and several of Michael Pollan's books as well as watched movies such as Food, Inc. that extol the virtues of eating diets based on local food so I thought it was a good idea to read something that makes the opposite argument. The authors examine the history, science, and economics of the food supply to argue that eating globally is actually much more beneficial than eating locally. I am not in disagreement wi ...more
Gregory Butera
Jul 09, 2015 Gregory Butera rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. After a series of books about the food system, it was refreshing to read something that took a different position on things. This is one of the rare books that made me change my mind about something I really had been sure was the way it should be. Very interesting perspective.
John Wunder
Oct 09, 2013 John Wunder rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book because I tend to lean on the locavore side of things and was looking for some alternative viewpoints.

Unfortunately, the book is full of strawmen and anecdotes so it's hard to cut through all that to get to some real arguments. If you believe the authors, "locavores" (a four letter word) want to compel everyone to garden in their backyard and never eat food that was shipped more than 100 miles. On the other hand we can trust random statements from professors and
Apr 17, 2016 Tiago rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Più due e mezzo che tre stelle. Nell'insieme interessante ed abbastanza argomentato, sebbene in diversi punti si vedano le fisime degli autori, in alcuni argomenti minori caghino decisamente fuori dal vaso con fonti abbastanza discutibili.
Apr 16, 2013 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I've head a lot of great things about this book and I consequently have high hopes for it. The authors made some good points and explained some things in a way that I hadn't thought about them before. But once near the beginning they tried to explain one thing that I just happened to know something about and I could see where what they were saying was technically true, but it wasn't the whole story. They were kind of misrepresenting that fact and for me that shot their credibility. And the whole ...more
Brandt Kurowski
Aug 13, 2013 Brandt Kurowski rated it really liked it
Challenged a lot of my assumptions about which food choices I make are most sustainable. There are plenty of places where the authors' conservative bias rises to the surface of the text, but that doesn't detract from the well-argued (and thoroughly documented) main thesis that locavorism for localism's sake leads to a myopic worldview that can have detrimental effects environmentally and economically. I highly recommend this for fellow locavores, because even if the text doesn't convince you, th ...more
Nov 29, 2012 Greggd rated it really liked it
Interesting and thought provoking work. Will agree with some other reviewers that maybe the tone is a bit condescending, but the science speaks for itself - there is a reason why the global food market is the way it is today, there is a logical progression, and today we can enjoy the fruits of that process. A more thoughtful discussion can be found in Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, but both authors are in agreement on the major points.
Jan 22, 2013 Angela rated it really liked it
Refreshingly sensible. After reading so many books and articles about green living and locavorism, I was happy to read a book in favor of global food policy. Humans are resourceful and thoughtful, and it is through generations of ingenuity that we have arrived at our current system of agriculture, the most nutritious, affordable, efficient, and even environmentally-friendly pattern yet. A great read.

"Eat global! The Planet is our Garden."
Linda Belote
Oct 11, 2012 Linda Belote rated it it was ok
It was quite disappointing. I wanted believable facts and reliable sources and didn't get either one. A University of Toronto professor should be more academic, rather than blatantly blowing the neoliberal horn, I actually agree with the premise that the world needs an international food system, but peasant ag is misrepresented, and the blind faith that industrial ag is 'good' for our health and our soils and our planet is very misplaced.
Apr 18, 2015 Eric rated it did not like it
Shelves: food-farming
I probably should have read the reviews first. This book was pretty bad. The author has some relevant points but he really has no ability to try to think through an argument properly. This book is hilariously biased against anything local food. The book makes it seem like you can't try to eat local but also enjoy some oranges in February. Don't bother reading this, I skimmed a lot because it really is bad.
Sep 26, 2012 Dorothy-Jean rated it it was amazing
Know your history: The authors remind us that globalization began thousands of years ago with the trading of food and goods (think berries, meat, later the Silk Road, salt, spices, etc.). Also, consider the fact that one may practice locavorism seasonally in one's area.
This book is a must read to place the issue in perspective.
Jun 19, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing
The authors take a controversial stance against the environmental and economic benefits of local food, but back it up with thoughtful analysis. I enjoyed many of the historical tidbits, like the Parisian farmers who grew pineapples in the 19th century. A recommended read if you're interested in the issue of local food.
Jan 17, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
A thorough indictment of "buy local." Brilliantly argued, in my opinion. It's relatively concise at less than 200 pages and educational in general on the history of agriculture and trade, quite apart from the anti-locavore focus.
Kendall Krebs
Sep 22, 2013 Kendall Krebs rated it it was ok
While I generally agree with the points made by the authors, opinions seemed to dominate the book rather than well articulated (and cited) facts.
Jul 17, 2012 Govind rated it it was ok
Someone should write a carefully researched, nuanced book that considers the questions they raise. But they didn't do it.
Oct 02, 2012 Paul rated it it was ok
Shelves: food-books
Very interesting book if you are looking for a different point of view compared to Food, Inc and Omnivore's Dilemma.
Jun 22, 2012 Meredith rated it it was amazing
Well researched, well argued. I would love to hear them debate Mark Bittman!
Apr 24, 2016 Michy rated it liked it
A well researched narrative on the local food "movement" debate.
Oct 30, 2012 Maggie rated it it was ok
Hugely biased, neglects a lot of aspects of local food.
Mike Murray
Sep 06, 2013 Mike Murray rated it liked it
Shelves: food
Browsed it. Great info, but not new to me.
S/K added it
May 12, 2016
Jim marked it as to-read
May 01, 2016
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