Consumers are more and more demanding local products from the food stores they frequent, there’s little doubt about that, as I’ve written before.
But one long-time food writer, Phil Lempert, argues that many regions of the world simply can’t support much local production and so consumers should be thinking about what he calls bio-regions.
“Much confusion still surrounds what ‘local’ is and is not. A new definition is needed – one that defines local in terms of ‘bio-regions’ in which nature has defined the best growing areas for crops and livestocks based on quality, sustainability and economics based on the soils and climate conditions. Gone are the arbitrary mile radius descriptions as they are replaced with identification of certain regions with detailed explanations of the bio-region,” he wrote earlier this year on his Supermarket Guru site.
Lempert goes on to discuss a concept put forward by Food writer Mark Bittman — “Bittman prefers to use the term Agro-ecological to describe a system that produces responsibly, sustainably, ethically produced food. But he is challenged. While he needs reliable sourcing for a commercial enterprise that serves thousands of customers, he says it is currently futile: ‘It simply isn’t available in the quantities we need in normal supply chains,’ Lempert writes of Bitman, who is chief innovation officer at Purple Carrot, a start-up vegan meal kit site.
The question of feeding the millions and billions of people with local production has always seemed an impossible, if laudable, task to me, but I know there are some who look to non-traditional means of local production as an answer. It’s definitely worth it to continue asking this important question.