T Nation

Sustainable Local Food Production


Our current society is not fed by sustainable local food production and this issue seems woefully unsound.

I am an American but it is certainly global from my travels.

I am curios what you all here have to say on the topic.


No society that has freedom of choice will be completely fed by local sustainable food -- and neither should one want that.

You would starve if you had to eat entirely locally. Plant a garden.

Ahi tuna cannot be raised locally and neither can bananas.

We depend on the productivity of the entire planet and that is a good thing.



Basic economics. Even my ignorant ass knows this.


This makes sense to me. I personally have no objections to global economics and rather enjoy my Australian oranges and Dutch tomatoes.

I am just wondering how important sustainable local farming really will be in the future.

By local I am thinking more along the lines of regional and national than immediate vicinity.

The reason I think our current lack in the U.S. is unsound as it seems to be way undervalued in our current markets because of cheap fuel prices.

With fuel prices rising so fast and the U.S. dollar also losing buying power sustainable local food as a commodity might be poised for a spike in demand in the near future.


The United States has always (in my lifetime at least) produced more food than it has needed. In this sense we are completely sustainable. The surplus of food is traded for other goods that we otherwise would not have.

When people talk about sustainability it is usually in the form of environmental concerns of which there certainly is but economically speaking, when the cost of producing and trading is no longer beneficial it will cease to happen -- due to rising fuel prices, etc. One thing that is keeping farmers from trading locally is federal subsidies and artificially low fuel prices because the added costs no longer have to be absorbed by the farmer -- also, corporate farming has something to do with it as well.

I live in Minnesota which produces tons of dairy yet all of the dairy I buy comes from Wisconsin or even Vermont (Whole Foods). I cannot for the life of me figure it out. I think farmers must get more for their goods when they export them to other states. When I lived in California I couldn't get decent produce in winter.

I think in order for produce to become more local farmers have to have the proper economic incentive. Right now that incentive does not exist.


It will very important, largely because the idea of the world as a pure "food free trade zone" is faulty - factors such as food producer subsidization and national security make us seriously consider sustainable independent production.

This doesn't suggest "food isolationism" by any stretch - but it does mean leaving food production on the table as a broader policy concern.


The industrial agriculture practiced in this country is entirely unsustainable. To be straight agriculture means corn and soybeans. In the US 70% of our caloritic input comes from these two crops. Industrial agriculture has managed to shift the means of production from an inexhaustible, unlimited, and free source(the sun), to a finite, dwindling,and increasingly expensive one(petroleum).

Where farmer used to produce two calories of energy for every one invested, it now requires one than one calorie energy input for every one calorie produced. To quantify this, it requires fifty gallons of oil to grow one acre of corn.(One acre will produce 180-200 bushels of corn.) Ever increasing efficiency leads to ever increasing yields, which leads to lower prices. Lower prices means that farmers,(including large corporations) must produce more corn to make the same amount of money.

More corn leads to a surplus, which means that corporations must find a way to utilize all this extra corn, which leads to more processed food, which leads to FAT HIPPOS AND THEIR MOTHERS GRAZING AT COSTCO TAKING UP THE ENTIRE GODDAMN AISLE SO THEY CAN FEED THERE FAT ASS KIDS OVERPROCESSED CORN BASED FOODS LEADING TO THE EVENTUAL DOWNFALL OF CIVILIZATION!!!! Sorry about that, I just hate fat people. Corn is the devil and soybean is his minion.

We are so far removed from the food we eat that we have no idea how it is produced and at what cost.


This is true. I question the accuracy of some of your numbers because they are hard to determine and the studies in the area tend to be biased but you are essentially correct.


Corn is a C4 plant, as such it does not discriminate between C12 and C13 as C3 plants do. We can determine the corn eaten by comparing the ratio of C12 to C13 in tissues. The 70% is an average of all Americans, not someone who we would consider conscious of their diet.

As an exercise, calculate your corn intake. Remember, unless you buy range fed or wild, beef, chicken, farmed fish(salmon, trout, catfish, Atlantic tuna), turkey, and pork, are all made out of corn. Our meat sources are what they eat, the same as us.


Note to Whole Foods customers:

All the beef products they sell are from cows that have spent their last 90 days of life being stuffed full of corn in a very a very small cage.


This is very much how I feel. What concerns me is it is barely an issue on the political radar of policy concerns.

I hope this is because we still have a long way before it truly is an important issue but always fear we may be ill prepared for what should be obvious eventualities.


Look into CSA's. Community supported agriculture. We joined one last year. It had 50 familes as members. You have to pick up your food each week and also do 8 hrs. of labor per person during the summer.

The food was all organically grown. Tasted great and was abundant. We got a bushel a week from May thru June. Cost was far less then buying a bushel of organic veggies every week at the market. Thru the CSA we also found a local source for eggs and meat. My wife canned Okra, tomatoes, peppers and cukes.

Combined with me and my son hunting this year we are eating mostly local food and mostly organic and/or free range. I still have one more chance for another deer this year so we should be all set as far as meat goes.


Wow. The way it should be.
Hedo, I truly envy you.


Whitetail Deer = The orginal free range meat!