If the phrase “eat local” stirs your activist soul, meet Texas State University associate professor James E. McWilliams in Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly . He is not necessarily opposed to your ritual Saturday trip to the farmers’ market (though the energy inefficiencies of chauffeuring heirloom tomatoes to your kitchen do make him cringe), but he argues that “food miles”—the distance a product travels to your table and therefore its environmental impact—are a less accurate indicator of responsible agriculture than “life cycle assessment,” which quantifies the total energy expended in production, processing, and transportation. McWilliams has guts. Some of the changes he champions will draw fire from all quarters, especially his call to eat genetically modified foods and his insistence that we curtail, if not end, our meat consumption. But he also presents ideas that may appeal to both the greenerati and capitalistas, such as aquaponics, the profitable practice of cultivating crops in symbiosis with tank-living fish. McWilliams forgoes sloganeering in favor of measured logic, but he doesn’t downplay the notion that a worldwide food crisis is imminent and that we had better fix things. Soon. Little, Brown, $25.99
Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly
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