Monday, June 18, 2012

New Freakonomics Radio episode on local food

Stephen Dubner has a great new podcast episode on Freakonomics Radio about falsehoods in the environmental claims of the local food movement. The focus is on a study from Santa Barbara Calif. on why a place that already has a comparative advantage in producing food wouldn't benefit from consuming local food.

Economist Ed Glaeser makes a guest appearance and says, among other things:

The idea of there being something wrong with our food cuts to the very heart of our stomachs; of our souls, almost. So it’s not so surprising that people have these deep emotional reactions to food. And we certainly are right to worry a lot about whether or not our food is fresh, and good, and tasty, but I just keep coming back to feeling a certain amount of satisfaction that I’m eating grapes that are keeping up the standard of living in Chile.
At the end they confronted members of the general public on the fallacies of the local food movement. As expected, people did not change their view when confronted with the evidence, but shifted to other explanations. As Dubner said near the end:
The responses were interesting and diverse.Some denial, some rationalization, some switching over to the other ways local food is superior, like, it tastes better. When you make decisions about something as important as the environment, and as personal and emotionally charged as food, it's hard to hear that the factual foundation of your decision is a bit wobbly. It can be easier just to stick to your beliefs, your intuitive beliefs, than it is to deal with the weird complexities of the modern world.

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