Saturday, 6 September 2014

Why urban agriculture isn't the solution to anything...


We're supposed to get all agitated about food miles and to see growing food in cities as the solution with the countryside left to wild animals and strange bearded men with banjos and pick-up trucks. The truth is, as ever with environ-loon wet dreams, that this makes absolutely no sense at all:

What today’s enthusiastic locavores ultimately fail to understand is that their “innovative” ideas are not only up against the Monsantos of this world, but also in a direct collision course with regional advantages for certain types of food production, economies of scale of various kinds in all lines of work and the fact that pretty much anything they can achieve in urban environments can be replicated at lower costs in the countryside. These basic realities defeated sophisticated local food production systems in the past and will do so again in the foreseeable future.

While no one argues against the notion that our modern food production system can be improved, and entrepreneurs are always searching how to do so, the desire to make urban agricultural a viable commercial reality distracts from more serious issues such as international trade barriers and counterproductive domestic agricultural subsidies. The sooner well-intentioned activists understand these realities, the better. 

This is from an article by Pierre Desrochers Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Toronto where he explores five reasons why urban agriculture won't succeed (and the reference to 19th Century Parisians growing pineapples in horse muck is especially delicious).


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