Strawberries from Irvine

April 30th, 2008

I recently purchased strawberries at a national grocery store chain in Richmond, VA. They were grown in Irvine, CA – over 2,000 miles away.

I recognize arguments endorsing local produce such as reduction of oil consumption and support for small local farmers. However, I wonder if the subjective definition of “local” requires reconsideration. Advancements in technology including rapid and efficient transportation as well as knowledge of modern farming techniques allow farmers to produce crops in larger quantities and transport them to more distant areas than ever before. Rather than producing a variety of crops to sustain the local population, regions can now specialize in crops that thrive in specific climates while the entire world essentially becomes a market in which they can find their niche. I can buy strawberries from California, oranges from Florida, limes from Mexico, and apples from Virginia just like I can buy electronics from China, tea from India, and cars from Japan. With commerce and communication creating a global economy for many industries, why can’t the definition of “local” as it applies to produce farmers be expanded as well?

Exactly how many miles from my front door does my locality end and a neighboring locality begin?

Comments Off on Strawberries from Irvine