Globalization datapoint of the day: Organic isn’t locavore

By Felix Salmon
November 9, 2011
Organic World has a series of charts about organic agriculture, from which these two stand out:

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Organic World has a series of charts about organic agriculture, from which these two stand out:

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Clearly there’s a huge disconnect here — there’s basically no overlap at all between the countries producing the most organic food, on the one hand, and the countries consuming the most organic food, on the other.

What that means, in turn, is a real dilemma for the kind of people who want to eat local and organic. I’ve certainly noticed this at my local Whole Foods: you can eat local, or you can eat organic, but it’s very hard to do both. (And when you do, you pay through the nose for the privilege.)

I do wonder how this state of affairs came about — you’d think that demand for organic products would be felt locally, in the first instance. But I guess global agriculture is so global now that demand shows up first in places like Australia and Argentina, where land is cheap — even when domestic demand for organic food in those markets is very small.

And I also wonder how many of the restaurants who proudly source their produce from named farms are getting vegetables which are organic and local. My guess is that it’s not as many as you might think.

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