Eating Local is Elitist?

I was talking to a friend about how I was trying to be more “aware” in my food choices. I have been trying to eat locally produced food whenever possible.  I also try to eat organic food, with the least amount of processing and packaging.  My friend said, “Don’t you thing that is a bit elitist?”     What?????? Where did that come from. How could it be elitist?

His answer was that local, organic, sustainable, fair trade, whatever, food is usually more expensive. And poor people can not afford to buy these types of food. Therefore, it was elitist.

I have to say I disagree.  It would be elitist if I were to say that everyone should abandon regular commercial agriculture and only purchase food and products that are organic, small farm, local and fair trade.   But I don’t say that, and I don’t think it is true.  I think each of us should choose our own way to be more healthy, help the planet, help others, etc.   Some may not be in a place where they are even thinking about any of that. I mean, after all, if you can barely afford to feed your kids, you probably aren’t worried about how far those grapes traveled or what the cow in your hamburger ate for dinner.  And that’s OK.

It benefits everyone when those who can afford it choose to buy the more sustainable food and products.  My buying local, organic strawberries creates a market and a demand for local, organic strawberries.  More of a demand means more farmers are willing to make the investment required to grow local, organic strawberries.  More strawberries, more competition, more economies of scale, and the price goes down. 

It has happened with organic foods.  It used to be that organic was very expensive and hard to find.  Now Wal-Mart carries organic food and it is cheap!  My local Costco sometimes has organic items that are cheaper than the non-organic brands. Because some people were willing to pay more for organic, it made organic cheaper for everyone. 

So, In the long run, I think that if you can afford it, buying local and sustainably produced food and products helps make these items more available for everyone.  And that is not elitist.

1 thought on “Eating Local is Elitist?”

  1. organic was very expensive and hard to find. Now Wal-Mart carries organic food and it is cheap. My local Costco sometimes has organic items that are cheaper than the non-organic brands.

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