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Another Romantic and Ridiculous Assault on Modernity

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to the Washington Post:

From across the country activists have converged on San Francisco for the ‘Slow Food Nation” rally (“As Food Becomes a Cause, Meeting Puts Issues on the Table,” August 30).  These activists insist that consuming non-local foods harms the environment, exploits workers, severs community ties, and numbs our taste buds.

Overlook the fact that these claims are not supported by empirical research or sound thinking,* and let’s get into the rally’s spirit, which refuses to be dampened by facts or reason.  Start by asking: why reject only non-local foods?  Why not also reject non-local news – such as this very report from San Francisco?  And why not also reject non-local culture?  Surely we Washingtonians would be happier and more in touch with ourselves if we read only novels written by locals such as Christopher Buckley and not those written by the likes of Milan Kundera, Margaret Atwood, or Larry McMurtry.  And what’s with the Kennedy Center bringing in performers from outside the Beltway?

How much CO2 is unnecessarily emitted into the atmosphere whenever the Kirov Ballet flies in from St. Petersburg or when James Levine comes down from Boston?  And how many local artists do we overlook in our thoughtless insistence on seeing non-local acts performed on our local stages?

Donald J. Boudreaux

* See, for example, Andrew Lilico, “Buying local is not necessarily green,” Economic Affairs, Vol. 28, June 2008.


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