[FoRK] 100 mile diet...

Ken Meltsner <meltsner at alum.mit.edu> on Thu Jan 25 08:57:31 PST 2007

Definitely harder in North America, and definitely harder today (for
in-season food) than it was 100 years ago.  And I'm going to miss
black pepper, coffee, and citrus (and possibly salt -- I'm not sure we
have any salt mines within 100 miles).  And cane sugar, although I
suppose beets are just as good once it's refined.

Fact is, regional specialization has turned out to be cheaper than
local produce as the extra transportation costs are clearly more than
offset by the reduced produce costs.  Whether the food itself is as
good is another issue, but it's definitely cheaper.

The Northeast, for example, used to have all sorts of orchards, grain,
livestock, etc. but much of this has been displaced by cheaper Western
and Midwestern farms.  If you look closely at many undeveloped
"wilderness" areas, you'll find that they're primarily second- or
third-growth forests and not old-growth, since in the past it was
cleared for farming, but later abandoned.   I've heard that the same
thing is happening in the Midwest now as farming moves from states
like Iowa and Wisconsin further west.

Ken Meltsner

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