The Local Food Movement Is Hurting Farmers

The dark side of fresh vegetables.
The dark side of fresh vegetables. Photo: Alex Katz/Corbis

Purchasing local food makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but the movement is leaving many farmers broke and without insurance. Economists say that it’s an uphill battle for farmers to earn a living because the return on investments for fruits and vegetables is too small, and it’s not a profitable use of time. As the government tries to figure out how the hell to solve this obesity crisis, it’s bad news that it’s inefficient to produce healthy, locally grown food, and that farmers’ markets are bad economic models. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is developing new programs to support small businesses — and farmers are getting creative by using hand tools to supplement their incomes, developing farm-to-school programs, and selling food to big bad Walmart in addition to markets and co-ops. But next time you see food billed as “artisanal, local, organic, farm-to-table, and magical,” know that it’s bullshit — at least when it comes to energy efficiency and cost. [NPR]