The locavore’s dilemma: Urban farms do more harm than good to the environment

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    Jun 16, 2011 9:25 PM GMT
    Personally, I'm not a locavore.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/06/16/the_locavores_dilemma/

    But while neighborhoods benefit from the occasional communal garden, it is a mistake to think that metropolitan areas could or should try to significantly satisfy their own food needs. Good environmentalism is smart environmentalism that thinks through the total systemic impacts of any change. Farm land within a metropolitan area decreases density levels and pushes us apart, and carbon emissions rise dramatically as density falls.

    In 2008, two Carnegie Mellon researchers analyzed the reduction in carbon emissions that might come from moving to local food. They found that American food consumption produces greenhouse gas equivalent to 8.9 tons of carbon dioxide per household per year. Food delivery represents .4 tons of that total; all agricultural transportation up and down the food chain creates one ton of carbon dioxide per household annually.

    We must weigh the environmental benefits from shipping less food against the environmental costs of producing and storing local food in a state that doesn’t exactly have ideal conditions for every kind of produce. One recent UK report found that the greenhouse gas emissions involved in eating English tomatoes were about three times as high as eating Spanish tomatoes. The extra energy and fertilizer involved in producing tomatoes in chilly England overwhelmed the benefits of less shipping. Even New Zealand lamb produced less greenhouse gases than English lamb. Berkeley graduate student Steven Sexton estimates that an American switch to more local corn production would require 35 percent more fertilizer and 22.8 percent more energy.

    But the most important environmental cost of metropolitan agriculture is that lower density levels mean more driving. Today, about 250 million Americans live on the 60 million acres of this country that are urban — which is about four people per acre. By contrast, America uses 442 million acres for cropland and 587 million acres for pastureland, which is about 1.4 and 1.9 acres per person respectively. If we allocated just 7.2 percent of this agricultural land into metropolitan area, we would halve metropolitan area densities.
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    Jun 17, 2011 2:35 AM GMT
    I like this article.. Ive been looking at urban farming and this is just the kind of info I need to find out if its worth it... thanks Riddler!

    Edit: i notice the article doesnt mention agriculture in buildings and talks about the greenhouse gas emissions involved in bringing fertilizer to a metropolitan area... (that last one should be an easy problem to solve though, with sewage waste beeing plentiful and adequate fertilizer).. another problem it doesnt address is water usage... would it not be a loss of efficiency to bring all this extra water necessary into the urban area? Good questions for future research... a very interesting and thought-provoking article.. I do like it
  • calibro

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    Jun 17, 2011 2:56 AM GMT
    The article operates on the fallacy of growing things that are not regional. Yes, it takes more energy to grow something not native, but it's a moot point when you grow some that doesn't require all that fertilizer.
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    Jun 17, 2011 3:12 AM GMT
    calibro saidThe article operates on the fallacy of growing things that are not regional. Yes, it takes more energy to grow something not native, but it's a moot point when you grow some that doesn't require all that fertilizer.


    Well I'll say the article is a bit one-sided in its facts... it doesnt give data for a milion other crops you COULD grow and have been grown for centuries this way, like Paris mushrooms... and its transport numbers are based on highways in a North-American urban setting which is quickly becoming the standard, but is certainly not the only form of urban planning we have available to us.. non-the-less it points out some very good pitfalls to avoid and things to watch out for
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    Jun 17, 2011 4:23 AM GMT
    People living in Suburbia could easily turn a portion of their yards into gardens and its amazing how much produce can come from a 20 by 40 garden spot. It can be feritilized by catching all the grass clippings, and other trimmings/weed that are pulled. Mulch made from this stuff is excellent fertilizer and all that mulching requires is piling it at one end of the garden and covering it with black plastic.

    There's a lot of ways to do things to save money on the food bill, that don't cost a major investment to get started. If every family did this it wouldn't have any detrimental affect on the environment. Some of you Techies make things harder than they have to be, because of your unfamiliarity with what rural families do every year and think nothing of it while saving themselves a lot of money at the grocery store..
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    Jun 17, 2011 6:46 AM GMT
    realifedad said People living in Suburbia could easily turn a portion of their yards into gardens and its amazing how much produce can come from a 20 by 40 garden spot. It can be feritilized by catching all the grass clippings, and other trimmings/weed that are pulled. Mulch made from this stuff is excellent fertilizer and all that mulching requires is piling it at one end of the garden and covering it with black plastic.

    There's a lot of ways to do things to save money on the food bill, that don't cost a major investment to get started. If every family did this it wouldn't have any detrimental affect on the environment. Some of you Techies make things harder than they have to be, because of your unfamiliarity with what rural families do every year and think nothing of it while saving themselves a lot of money at the grocery store..


    I agree with you, very often reality gets lost when they start interpreting these things solely in numbers....
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    Jun 17, 2011 6:55 AM GMT
    Not to mention the endless heirloom varieties that are grown and traded locally that cannot be purchased at your local megabox. The article didn't even touch on the health savings associated with knowledgeable growing either.
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    Jun 17, 2011 12:15 PM GMT
    Wow!
    As a guy who owns a ranch, lives in the middle of farm country and produces more than 95% of the food consumed by my family on my ranch, I have to say I am more than a little stunned by the comments here.


    " i notice the article does not mention agriculture in buildings and talks about the greenhouse gas emissions involved in bringing fertilizer to a metropolitan area... (that last one should be an easy problem to solve though, with sewage waste being plentiful and adequate fertilizer).. another problem it doesn't address is water usage... would it not be a loss of efficiency to bring all this extra water necessary into the urban area? "

    First let me address "agriculture in buildings", I assume you are referring to greenhouses and hothouses? Since both of these require that the crop be fertilized, the same as if they were grown in an open field the green house emissions involved in fertilization would be no different. If you are talking about greenhouse gasses produced in the enclosed space, it would also not be any different as greenhouses and hothouses need to be periodically ventilated either manually or electronically.
    If you are referring to some other type of building, then you would have to address lighting, as plants need certain lighting spectrum and at the present most of the worlds electricity still comes from coal fired pants.
    As for using human sewage for fertilizer, not a good idea, there is a certain amount of risk to that. A number of studies show that people living and working in areas where the land is "treated" with bio-solids run the risk of breathing in Salmonella, enteroviruses and other pathogens contained in the dist blown off of bio-solid-treated land. They also find an increase in pathogens like noroviruses, the family of microbes that cause stomach flu and E. coli. There is also the problem of the smell, which most urban or suburban dwellers aren't willing to put up with.
    As far as water, since most urban and suburban areas don't have irrigation canals and ditches, it would be no more efficient than turning on the tap to fill a public swimming pool, unless some brainiac has decided to enforce hauling water in by tanker.


    "The article operates on the fallacy of growing things that are not regional. Yes, it takes more energy to grow something not native, but it's a moot point when you grow some that doesn't require all that fertilizer."

    Interesting! With modern hybridization, "the fallacy of growing things that are not regional" isn't really a problem unless you are trying to grow citrus outside in New York City, as we now have watermelon strains that will mature in the short growing season of Montana !
    I hate to break it to you, but most of what you eat never existed in nature, rather they are the product of generations of selective breeding and therefore are not native.Many of the foods we are accustomed to look very little like the ancestors they descend from, and many of them are from other parts of the world. BTW, the potato is one of the easiest pants to grow in the northern parts of the US and it actually came from South America. If we follow your logic and only grow those foods "native" to the areas we live in, our diets would be very boring indeed !
    As for fertilizer, I don't know what universe you are residing in, but in farm country we kinda understand that all plants need fertilizer of some kind, even those who need a minimum of nutrients like air plants (bromeliads) and cacti. I'm not sure that you understand anything about farming. In farm country where I live, we rotate our crops. One year we will grow legumes (alfalfa) in fields that have previously been depleted of nutrients by other crops because legumes fix nitrogen, that is they have structures on their roots that aid to replenish the nitrogen removed from the soil by other crops. We also have fields that are allowed to lie fallow for a growing season, being fertilized and husbanded in preparation for the next growing season.
    With less land in an urban or suburban area then we have in farm country to practice good husbandry, fertilizer would be even more important as the nutrients would be depleted at a faster rate, especially if raised beds are being used. Maybe you could explain what you mean by "grow some that doesn't require all that fertilizer" ? There is much more that goes into producing your food than planting a seed, watering and harvesting !


    "People living in Suburbia could easily turn a portion of their yards into gardens and its amazing how much produce can come from a 20 by 40 garden spot. It can be fertilized by catching all the grass clippings, and other trimmings/weed that are pulled. Mulch made from this stuff is excellent fertilizer and all that mulching requires is piling it at one end of the garden and covering it with black plastic.
    There's a lot of ways to do things to save money on the food bill, that don't cost a major investment to get started. If every family did this it wouldn't have any detrimental affect on the environment. Some of you Techies make things harder than they have to be, because of your unfamiliarity with what rural families do every year and think nothing of it while saving themselves a lot of money at the grocery store.. "

    "Some of you Techies make things harder than they have to be, because of your unfamiliarity with what rural families do every year and think nothing of it while saving themselves a lot of money at the grocery store..." Spoken like someone who has never actually had a "20 by 40 garden spot".
    First of all you have "mulch and compost mixed up. Mulch is something you use on the surface of the ground to keep down weeds and retain moisture and compost is nutrient rich rotted organic matter that is incorporated in the soil to improve tilth. If one followed your directions for making compost by throwing black plastic over a pile of grass clippings they would have a smelly, rotten mess that was of no value except for the man you pay to haul it to the landfill.
    I'm not sure you understand the amount of work that would go into a "20 by 40 garden spot". It's amazing how many people are turned off by gardening when they rush into it without having a clue of what they are doing and end up with far less produce than they expected because they didn't do any research and just thought how easy it would be to have a '20 by 40 garden spot".
    Grass clippings alone, as you suggest is not an excellent fertilizer. First of all, if you used grass clippings as a mulch as you suggest, grass clippings tend to compact unless they are used in very thin layers or the grass clippings were thoroughly dried before being used. The grass clippings shed water from above and act in a similar fashion as peat and draw moisture from the soil from below, so you would have very thirsty plants. If you had a 2" -4" layer or more grass clippings create massive amounts of heat when composting and any pant stems or roots that were covered by them would be burned. Because grass clippings that aren't thoroughly dried before being used create massive amounts of heat in the middle of the piles they can spontaneously combust.
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    Jun 17, 2011 12:17 PM GMT
    BTW, composting requires periodic watering and turning with a fork over a period of several month. Organic matter composted this season wouldn't even be usable in the garden until next growing season at the earliest. Another problem would come when someone who doesn't understand composting were to use weed clippings in their garden without first burning up the weed seeds by hot composting.
    Another problem with using grass clippings is that they would have to be free of chemicals or they would need to be allowed to sit for several months until the fertilizers and pesticides leached out of them before being used on crops for human consumption.
    I'm not sure what constitutes a "major investment" to you. With the price of readily avilabe seed varities averaging between $1 and $3/pack or with already started plants at about $1-$5 each, your "20 by 40 garden spot " could easily and quickly turn into a "major investment" ! And that's if your soil is in a condition that you don't either have to bring in top soil or add large amounts of addmendments to make the soil suitable to grow anything. Removing the sod for a garden project often strips away the thin layer of top soil in most modern housing developments.
    I think maybe you're unfamalier with what we "rural families do every year". Just for the record, we do actually think about it, while you are all passing the winter wishing you were in Cancun, we are actually researching, studying new varieties of seeds and planning our gardens. As for the saving money part, for most people in urban and suburban areas it is actually less expensive to buy small ammounts of produce at the store instead of the expense of growing it. For most it's more about the satisfaction of growing it themselves and not the savings.


    "
    I agree with you, very often reality gets lost when they start interpreting these things solely in numbers.... "

    Often reality gets lost when the "blind try to lead the blind".

    "Not to mention the endless heirloom varieties that are grown and traded locally that cannot be purchased at your local megabox. The article didn't even touch on the health savings associated with knowledgeable growing either. "

    Most heriloom varieties are avaliabel from many seed banks and with the resurgance of subsistance living and the desire to grow varieties that are able to set viable seed many heirloom varieties are again finding their way into the mainstream commerce. Often times heirloom varieties are not as productive, take longer to mature and at times are more difficult to grow than modern strains.
    I have to say if these posts are informed, none of them have touched on "health savings associated with knowledgeable growing either" let alone just knowledgeable growing.




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    Jun 17, 2011 12:38 PM GMT
    Ravco saidNot to mention the endless heirloom varieties that are grown and traded locally that cannot be purchased at your local megabox. The article didn't even touch on the health savings associated with knowledgeable growing either.


    This, especially as these do not have the proprietary genetic modification that does only God knows what to your body...
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    Jun 17, 2011 1:03 PM GMT
    alphatrigger said
    Ravco saidNot to mention the endless heirloom varieties that are grown and traded locally that cannot be purchased at your local megabox. The article didn't even touch on the health savings associated with knowledgeable growing either.


    This, especially as these do not have the proprietary genetic modification that does only God knows what to your body...


    You are confused. You obviously don't understand what an heirloom seed is. Also not all non-heirloom seeds are genetically modified.

    I agree with most of what shybuffguy stated. The only exception is that a garden does NOT have to be a major investment. I spend less than $20 (USD) per year for seed and plants to go in my 1/2 acre garden. The reason for that is, I will save seed from year to year.

    My garden produces almost all the vegetables and legumes that I consume in a year's time. I've never paid for any type of fertilizer. I will compost and mulch. BOTH are important factors to gardening. A very thick mulch will reduce how often and how much water the garden requires. For one thing, it helps keep the soil a bit cooler keeping it from drying out too quickly.

    One poster mentioned the cost of water being transported. You don't have to use municipal water. You can use rainwater collected from a roof. You would be amazed at how much rainwater you can collect.

    The biggest cost I have in preserving my own food is the cost of lids for my canning jars. It costs around $2 per dozen jars, for lids. I can almost everything I produce. There are few things I will dehydrate, but only things that can be dried with ambient air and not a dehydrator.

    An idea of what all I grow and preserve? Tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, sweet corn, pop corn, green beans, pinto beans, rhubarb, horseradish, cucumbers for pickles, cabbage (Sauerkraut), radishes, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, pumpkin, cantaloupe, watermelon, black-eye peas, broccoli, cauliflower, peanuts (peanut butter), louffa (for my own "sponges"), grapes.... I'm sure I left something out. My point is that I can grow a great deal of variety of vegetables in what I consider a small area.

    For someone that doesn't have land like we do, you can do a couple things... google them... "square foot gardening" or "container gardening".

    The article is so full of deception, I wouldn't know where to begin.

    Why do I raise my own food? 1. Compare my cost of about $40 (max) per year for seed and jar lids to what you spend per month on groceries. 2. You can't buy and eat as healthy as you can eat from your own garden.

    I almost forgot... in addition to this, I also have a "wheat plot". I use it to raise my own wheat that I store and grind for flour as I need flour.
  • musclmed

    Posts: 3284

    Jun 17, 2011 1:57 PM GMT
    Do i have to give up my heirloom tomatoes I grow in my backyard?icon_cry.gif

    They are doing well this year icon_biggrin.gif


    The genetic mod stuff is easy to grow but you must try the black cherry tomato or the "mortgage breaker tomato"

    DCP_8897.sized.jpg
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    Jun 17, 2011 7:08 PM GMT
    @PaulNKS... I'm not "confused", and am quite sure I know what an heirloom variety is. I never said anything regarding genetic modification either. I was merely stating that growing your own food allows you to grow things that might now be available locally otherwise. Perhaps you guys have better access to produce than I do, but around here, our produce sellers only carry the most bruise and drought resistant current varieties in each category.

    @shybuffguy... Exactly what part of ""health savings associated with knowledgeable growing either" is uninformed? Perhaps you didn't understand what I meant? I'm saying that urban "locavores" that grow their own food tend to live healthier lives because they are probably going to be more studied on proper nutrition as well vs. the person that just mindlessly goes through the grocer picking things up off the shelves.

    I'm sure you're both trying to be helpful and enlighten those of us who do not grow for a living, but a little more levity and congeniality would go a long way.


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    Jun 17, 2011 7:17 PM GMT

    I'd recommend looking at a lot of other articles on urban farming rather than one opinion piece.
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    Jun 17, 2011 7:21 PM GMT
    Here, some balance.
    http://www.cityfarmer.org/subeurope.html

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/urban-farming-city-pickers-417851.html

    [url]http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/ewais/Urban%20Design%20%20Land%20Use%20Researches/Multifunction%20Land%20Use.pdf[/url]

    The last one, which is a detailed study won't link from here, so copy and paste.
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    Jun 17, 2011 7:24 PM GMT
    Ravco said@PaulNKS... I'm not "confused", and am quite sure I know what an heirloom variety is. I never said anything regarding genetic modification either. I was merely stating that growing your own food allows you to grow things that might now be available locally otherwise. Perhaps you guys have better access to produce than I do, but around here, our produce sellers only carry the most bruise and drought resistant current varieties in each category.


    Sorry...I was referring to alphatrigger's comment when he said,
    "...especially as these do not have the proprietary genetic modification that does only God knows what to your body..."

    His statement clearly reflects that he doesn't understand the differences between heirlooms, varieties and GMO's. He's assuming all non-heirloom seeds are GMO's.

    I apologize and should have quoted alphatrigger originally.

    By the way, I don't grow vegetables or crops for a living (other than my own consumption). Ours is primarily a cow/calf operation, with a few other things thrown in such as goats for milk, butter, cheese... and chickens for meat and eggs. Everything here is range, no confinement.

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    Jun 17, 2011 8:04 PM GMT
    riddler78 saidPersonally, I'm not a locavore.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/06/16/the_locavores_dilemma/

    But while neighborhoods benefit from the occasional communal garden, it is a mistake to think that metropolitan areas could or should try to significantly satisfy their own food needs. Good environmentalism is smart environmentalism that thinks through the total systemic impacts of any change. Farm land within a metropolitan area decreases density levels and pushes us apart, and carbon emissions rise dramatically as density falls.

    In 2008, two Carnegie Mellon researchers analyzed the reduction in carbon emissions that might come from moving to local food. They found that American food consumption produces greenhouse gas equivalent to 8.9 tons of carbon dioxide per household per year. Food delivery represents .4 tons of that total; all agricultural transportation up and down the food chain creates one ton of carbon dioxide per household annually.

    We must weigh the environmental benefits from shipping less food against the environmental costs of producing and storing local food in a state that doesn’t exactly have ideal conditions for every kind of produce. One recent UK report found that the greenhouse gas emissions involved in eating English tomatoes were about three times as high as eating Spanish tomatoes. The extra energy and fertilizer involved in producing tomatoes in chilly England overwhelmed the benefits of less shipping. Even New Zealand lamb produced less greenhouse gases than English lamb. Berkeley graduate student Steven Sexton estimates that an American switch to more local corn production would require 35 percent more fertilizer and 22.8 percent more energy.

    But the most important environmental cost of metropolitan agriculture is that lower density levels mean more driving. Today, about 250 million Americans live on the 60 million acres of this country that are urban — which is about four people per acre. By contrast, America uses 442 million acres for cropland and 587 million acres for pastureland, which is about 1.4 and 1.9 acres per person respectively. If we allocated just 7.2 percent of this agricultural land into metropolitan area, we would halve metropolitan area densities.


    You really have a hate on for green progress.
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    Jun 17, 2011 8:16 PM GMT
    DoomsDayAlpaca said
    riddler78 saidPersonally, I'm not a locavore.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/06/16/the_locavores_dilemma/

    But while neighborhoods benefit from the occasional communal garden, it is a mistake to think that metropolitan areas could or should try to significantly satisfy their own food needs. Good environmentalism is smart environmentalism that thinks through the total systemic impacts of any change. Farm land within a metropolitan area decreases density levels and pushes us apart, and carbon emissions rise dramatically as density falls.

    In 2008, two Carnegie Mellon researchers analyzed the reduction in carbon emissions that might come from moving to local food. They found that American food consumption produces greenhouse gas equivalent to 8.9 tons of carbon dioxide per household per year. Food delivery represents .4 tons of that total; all agricultural transportation up and down the food chain creates one ton of carbon dioxide per household annually.

    We must weigh the environmental benefits from shipping less food against the environmental costs of producing and storing local food in a state that doesn’t exactly have ideal conditions for every kind of produce. One recent UK report found that the greenhouse gas emissions involved in eating English tomatoes were about three times as high as eating Spanish tomatoes. The extra energy and fertilizer involved in producing tomatoes in chilly England overwhelmed the benefits of less shipping. Even New Zealand lamb produced less greenhouse gases than English lamb. Berkeley graduate student Steven Sexton estimates that an American switch to more local corn production would require 35 percent more fertilizer and 22.8 percent more energy.

    But the most important environmental cost of metropolitan agriculture is that lower density levels mean more driving. Today, about 250 million Americans live on the 60 million acres of this country that are urban — which is about four people per acre. By contrast, America uses 442 million acres for cropland and 587 million acres for pastureland, which is about 1.4 and 1.9 acres per person respectively. If we allocated just 7.2 percent of this agricultural land into metropolitan area, we would halve metropolitan area densities.


    You really have a hate on for green progress.


    You seem to have a hate for inconvenient facts and a love for seeing things through a racially charged lens. I just have an interest in results and what can be empirically shown - and the locavore movement is a silly one at best that is at odds with environmental concerns.
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    Jun 17, 2011 8:22 PM GMT
    riddler said, "You seem to have a hate for inconvenient facts and a love for seeing things through a racially charged lens."


    I haven't seen a single word about racism on this topic. Why bring it up?
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    Jun 17, 2011 8:37 PM GMT
    meninlove said riddler said, "You seem to have a hate for inconvenient facts and a love for seeing things through a racially charged lens."


    I haven't seen a single word about racism on this topic. Why bring it up?


    Because it was relevant given the source.
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    Jun 17, 2011 8:42 PM GMT
    meninlove said riddler said, "You seem to have a hate for inconvenient facts and a love for seeing things through a racially charged lens."


    I haven't seen a single word about racism on this topic. Why bring it up?


    Don't you know? You can invalidate a black persons argument on any topic by claiming they see race in everything. Its a way for people to claim that black people don't really experience racism, even when race has zero to do with the topic at hand.
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    Jun 17, 2011 8:45 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    meninlove said riddler said, "You seem to have a hate for inconvenient facts and a love for seeing things through a racially charged lens."


    I haven't seen a single word about racism on this topic. Why bring it up?


    Because it was relevant given the source.



    Vague. There was not a thing he posted on this topic that could be seen as through a racially charged lens.

    He said this and this alone, "You really have a hate on for green progress."



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    Jun 17, 2011 8:49 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    riddler78 said
    meninlove said riddler said, "You seem to have a hate for inconvenient facts and a love for seeing things through a racially charged lens."


    I haven't seen a single word about racism on this topic. Why bring it up?


    Because it was relevant given the source.



    Vague. There was not a thing he posted on this topic that could be seen as through a racially charged lens.

    He said this and this alone, "You really have a hate on for green progress."





    And yet, I don't. How is that relevant - especially the context of the article that argues for green progress? Do you even bother to read or think before you post?
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    Jun 17, 2011 8:51 PM GMT



    Again, how and what does racism have to do to with this topic?

    He said he thought you were against green progress and you shot back that he sees things through a racially charged lens.

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    Jun 17, 2011 8:55 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    DoomsDayAlpaca said
    riddler78 saidPersonally, I'm not a locavore.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/06/16/the_locavores_dilemma/

    But while neighborhoods benefit from the occasional communal garden, it is a mistake to think that metropolitan areas could or should try to significantly satisfy their own food needs. Good environmentalism is smart environmentalism that thinks through the total systemic impacts of any change. Farm land within a metropolitan area decreases density levels and pushes us apart, and carbon emissions rise dramatically as density falls.

    In 2008, two Carnegie Mellon researchers analyzed the reduction in carbon emissions that might come from moving to local food. They found that American food consumption produces greenhouse gas equivalent to 8.9 tons of carbon dioxide per household per year. Food delivery represents .4 tons of that total; all agricultural transportation up and down the food chain creates one ton of carbon dioxide per household annually.

    We must weigh the environmental benefits from shipping less food against the environmental costs of producing and storing local food in a state that doesn’t exactly have ideal conditions for every kind of produce. One recent UK report found that the greenhouse gas emissions involved in eating English tomatoes were about three times as high as eating Spanish tomatoes. The extra energy and fertilizer involved in producing tomatoes in chilly England overwhelmed the benefits of less shipping. Even New Zealand lamb produced less greenhouse gases than English lamb. Berkeley graduate student Steven Sexton estimates that an American switch to more local corn production would require 35 percent more fertilizer and 22.8 percent more energy.

    But the most important environmental cost of metropolitan agriculture is that lower density levels mean more driving. Today, about 250 million Americans live on the 60 million acres of this country that are urban — which is about four people per acre. By contrast, America uses 442 million acres for cropland and 587 million acres for pastureland, which is about 1.4 and 1.9 acres per person respectively. If we allocated just 7.2 percent of this agricultural land into metropolitan area, we would halve metropolitan area densities.


    You really have a hate on for green progress.


    You seem to have a hate for inconvenient facts and a love for seeing things through a racially charged lens. I just have an interest in results and what can be empirically shown - and the locavore movement is a silly one at best that is at odds with environmental concerns.


    I thought you didn't even believe in global warming? Like others have stated this article plays fast and loose with the truth, besides you can totally pee on plants.