Locavorism at its purest and most insane.

Eating local is expensive and time-consuming, which is why this consumerist movement will not easily trickle down into mass society. It requires a willful abstinence from convenience and plenty, a core promise of the modern world. Our bountiful era is predicated on the division of labor: We don’t sew our own clothes, we don’t build our own houses—and we certainly don’t farm—because we’re too busy doing whatever it is we do for everyone else.

—”My Empire of Dirt” in New York magazine

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4 Comments

  1. Posted March 24, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Fucking localists. My friend Greg is doing his PhD on the limits of localism and the need for political economy. He has a really well written blog http://www.orangepolyester.blogspot.com Gotta love someone who is basically spending his entire academic careers tearing these fuckers apart.

    Personally, I love the fact that I can walk down to a restaurant and get some exotic food and wash my clothes in a washing machine and lurk random shit on the internet.

    Someone who has the time to do these things seems to be coming from a certain level of privelege that can romanticize being closer to the land. I think it stems from the alienation of labour under capitalism. They’re right in the critique of it but I think they miss the point. It’s the social relations of production that need to change. Not consumerism.

  2. Posted March 26, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    i think the writer works as a freelancer — and having been one (briefly) and knowing many, i know it’s a flexible pursuit. i think his month of living off the land was more a tongue-in-cheek way to push that trend to an extreme, but also to show how hard farmers work to grow our food, and why we should be a little more mindful of where our food comes from. the last page of the story covers that pretty well.

    as far as “privileged” people growing their own food, my view is a little more pragmatic. i don’t care what anyone’s intentions are for riding a bike rather than driving a car, or growing some tomatoes in their backyard for the love of gardening, or environmentalism, or bragging rights. as long as the action in a utilitarian way has a positive result, i’m supportive of it. in any case, i grew a handful of veggies (to varying degrees of success) last summer, and intend to again this spring — does that make me a privileged snob?

    i think most locavore supporters understand (if not entirely at least roughly) that food shipped from far away is a bad concept, not some “back to the land” romanticism. rightly or wrongly, environmentalists have pushed the idea that one small step becomes a collective leap toward more eco-friendly practices. lacking any more meaningful alternative theories that manage to percolate into mainstream consciousness, people have latched onto these concepts, and i think something is better than nothing.

  3. Posted April 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    My critique of it stems more from it as a movement as opposed to a few people trying to do their part. They lose sight of the fact that centralised production isn’t always a bad thing. Technology isnt a bad thing either. They make people’s lives a lot easier and help maximise free time and that’s a good thing because for most of the planet, work under capitalism is very alienating. Do I have a problem with people growing their own shit? Heck no. Do I have a problem with people who think that’s how we’re going to solve the world’s problems? An emphatic heck yes.

    Food shipped from far away, again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could be done with little to no environmental impact. Alienation from the social product has us producing things that are contrary to human existance and also have us relying on a unstable system: economically and environmentally. A locally based existance just isnt a reality for the bulk of the planet’s humans.

    It’s less a critique of the individual, more a critique of the social form in an attempt to create and egalitarian society. It will only come when we address the material and social conditions of work. Ya ya….typical marxist.

    Guilty of being an economic reductionist.

  4. Posted April 1, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

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