After listening to the first half of the show, my mind began to extend the logic of such ethical eating choices to the wider world.
So my big question of "ethical choice" is how can I do so while considering others. Not just those in my local area. Not just those who have available to them the sort of land that Barbara Kingsolver moved to in southwest Virginia. The ethical question for me morphed to "What about the others?"
The question I could not get out of my head is can this method, a large extension of the locavore ethic, work for the 6.7 billion folks in the world today?
I can see how it can work for many of us in the developed world who have the affluent means to do the sort of thing that Barbara Kingsolver did with her family.
But recall that such methods of local food production were, of course, the only means possible to the vast majority of the world in, say, 1800 and before was local food production. At that time, a significant number of the thinkers of Europe calculated that the world was reaching its productive limit around 1800 when the world population was a bit short of one billion.*
The author asks about the effects of our consumption, a good question. And she is concerned about its contribution toward global climate change, another good question.
But what will happen to the other five billion people who are alive today if those of us with the affluence to do it return to local production that is so much less productive than the world food production "system" that is in existence today? If food productivity drops, that is is the amount of human labor needed to produce each calorie of sufficient food increases, the other five billion will not be able to continue to sustain life with the local food ethic and the productive capabilities of 200 years ago. The vast exchange network that exists today, it would appears, has facilitated a much larger world population than would be possible with the locavore ethic.
To take just one example, the 28 million persons in Saudi Arabia depending on worldwide exchange of goods, and free trade of food, in order to sustain themselves.
Ms. Kingsolver asks: "Do you think you can keep doing this without paying some kind of price?"
What about the price of the potential demise of large numbers of people? Will those of us in the West who are rich enough to pull off a local food ethic be interested in "the price" of the hunger of large swathes of the existing world as worthwhile to our locavore food ethic? And if we do not, how is that, to use Kingsolver's words, "cruelty free"?
* I looked up these population numbers on Wikipedia, so they may not be absolutely correct. But the point of my question holds whatever the exact numbers are.
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