An engaging Salon article (free site pass required) asks: As foodservice giants jump on the eat-local bandwagon, will they dilute the movement’s potential benefits to the environment, family farmers, and food lovers? The answer seems to be no—at least for some passionate locavores. As enviro-writer Bill McKibben tells Salon:

I think it’s pretty hard to co-opt local, though doubtless people will try…. The industrial food machine depends on economies of scale, and these simply aren’t available locally—which is good.

Running that “machine” accounts for 16 percent of U.S. energy consumption (including food processing, packaging, distribution, and refrigeration). But, Salon points out,

Those numbers don’t even take into account the amount of energy that goes into the industrial production of food, from the petroleum-based fertilizers to the heavy machinery. Every mouthful of food fairly oozes with oil, and it’s not canola.

That unappetizing thought is another good reason to support small farmers.

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