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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 35 of Cormac Ó Gráda’s 2009 book, Famine:

In Western Europe, at least, there is also evidence that the integration of food markets attenuated year-to-year price fluctuations from the middle of the second millennium on. The big increases in population between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries – before industrialization or medical technology could have had much impact – corroborate this.

DBx: Trade saves lives.

While this pre-industrial integration of food markets – which, of course, wasn’t as solid as it is today – in pre-industrial Western Europe was not sufficient to completely eradicate what the late Nobel-laureate economic historian Robert Fogel described as “chronic malnutrition,” this improved integration nevertheless did afford Western Europeans after 1500 greater access to food – and, hence, greater protection against famine – than they would have had absent the integration.

Compared to diversifying your sources of food supplies across different countries, it’s quite risky to depend for your food on only the farmers and ranchers in your own country. Even riskier, of course, is to depend for your food on only the farmers and ranchers in your local area. (“Locavorism” is among the economically dumbest notions ever embraced by people thinking themselves progressive-cool or community-minded.)

Here’s another ‘of course’: What’s true for food is true for other supplies.

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