The local food movement in Arizona needs just that – movement.
While some shoppers enjoy spending their Saturday mornings at local farmers markets, new research indicates Arizona lacks per-capita sales in the local food industry.
The 2015 Locavore Index found that of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., Arizona has the second lowest per-capita sales for local foods.
Here is a scoop for you: We live in the middle of the freaking Sonoran desert. It is a terrible place to grow most foods. In fact, it is an environmentally awful place to grow food. Local food folks somehow have gotten locked into transportation costs as the key driver of food sustainability that they want to focus on, but transportation costs are 10% or less of most food costs. A small savings on transportation is absolutely dwarfed, from a productivity and resource use standpoint, by the productivity of the soil and the fit of the climate with whatever is being grown.
Here is one way to think of it -- yes, locally grown food may not have to be transported very far, but every drop of water for food grown here in the Phoenix area has to be brought hundreds of miles from declining reservoirs to grow that food.
The movement seems to imply that locally grown food is more healthy. Why? Why is an Arizona tomato healthier than a California tomato?
Finally, the micro-trade-protectionism is pretty funny:
If local Arizonans start buying more local food, the economy may benefit as well.
When buying local grown food, “the money stays here in the local economy, as opposed to buying something in a national chain,” said R.J. Johnson, a sales representative for Blue Sky Organic Farms in Litchfield Park. “You buy something locally, 75 percent of that money stays here in town.”
This is so economically ignorant as to be beyond belief. If more people are growing food here locally (something that is likely a fairly unproductive task given our climate), what productive tasks are they giving up. And this is a national effort -- are they really with a straight face telling every single state that they should buy more locally so their money stays at home? Isn't that just one big zero sum game (actually a negative sum game because you lose benefits of specialization and comparative advantage).