Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A final (imported) nail in the Locavore coffin

You might remember the "Locavore" movement, the anti-growth/anti-globalism folks who want to mandate that we supply ourselves within spitting distance of our front yards, or some such silliness.  At one time they were proposing legislation that required grocery stores to show how many "food miles" each product had travelled. 
Yeah.  Seriously. 

Yes, I guess you could grow oranges in Fort Worth, Texas, but they would have bigger carbon footprints than Al Gore's mansion(s).  And they would probably be so crappy that the producers couldn't get any economies of scale in their orange shipments.  I could go on and on, but there's no point in it. 

Here's another argument against the Locavores by Tim Worstall.  I found it on Samizdata:
Take local food. So, if everyone in North-Eastern Japan were to be reliant upon local food supplies then everyone in North-Eastern Japan would now be condemned to starvation in the next month or so. Not just the ten or twenty thousand who have already died, but the hundreds of thousands, millions, that make up the entire population. For in the wake of an earthquake that destroyed much and a tsunami that swamped the rest, there is no food, no saved food storage and no damn chance of growing any for the forseeable future.

"Localism” would kill all of these people. And the same would be true of localism in Pakistan when it floods, Queensland when it floods, Cockermouth when it floods, any damn where when there’s a drought and, in fact, any part of the planet that could be hit by any of those natural disasters which a vengeful planet can plop upon us, from the flood and drought already mentioned through to hurricanes, cyclones, potato or banana blight and plagues of frogs.
Think about any place suffering from a famine.  Famines happen when the local food supply doesn't come through, and the locals haven't been allowed to trade with neighboring (or faraway) nations. 

Ok, but what about the disruption to supply chains?  Haven't we all read about how Toyota plants in the U.S. and other a few other automakers are having to shut down assembly lines because they relied on Japanese parts? 
Wal-Mart figured that one out a long, long time ago.  They have a minimum of two suppliers for everything, just in case one of them goes broke, gets hit with an earthquake, a tsunami, or gets too uppity.  Within a couple of years, every one of Japane's major customers will have done the same. 

So good riddance to the Locavores.  If they had their way, I would be stuck eating local Texas barbeque. 

If you've got a few more minutes to kill, go here to read an account of a Locavore in British Colombia who drove all over town in a damn SUV to pick up food to serve at a locally-grown meal designed to get neighbors to turn off their floodlights.  I don't think he meant that part of it to be funny.  These are nice people, but they don't understand economies of scale. 


Harper said...

I had a similar line of thought watching a commercial for some reality show about women that spend every waking hour clipping coupons and then driving all over town to get their 'deals', with their aim being getting everything free. Apparently their time is worth nothing, and they never take into account the cost of acquisition, nor do they mention whether the products they get are worth a shit or things that their family likes or needs.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

The huge issue, though, is still the economies of scale. Various political hacks often comment on the cost of getting something like a DVD player from China to the U.S. Yeah, there is a cost associated with shipping it to, say, a factory to a shipping container in Shanghai, to the port of Long Beach, California, to a retail distribution center to a store.
But then, the most expensive leg of the journey arrives.... going (with no other cargo) from the store to my house.