Gaia hates carbs

James Lileks pays for a haircut, and gets a harangue for free:

The haircutter was a smart chap who is attending the U in Native American studies, and had written a piece that morning on Ethnobotany. The class, he said, had veered from historical studies to the discussion of Native American “subsistence” practices as an alternative to capitalism. I asked him if that meant we grew everything for ourselves in our backyard; more or less. A community should be able to feed itself.

Well, there go last Monday’s pork chops. No way am I slopping hogs out by the cottonwood tree.

I noted that capitalism and increased yields meant that people did not have to spend the entire day on food, and were freed up for things like science and art, and he said yes, that’s the tradeoff. I noted that it’s good to have strawberries in February, though, isn’t it? When the frozen food industry made it possible to have things in winter without the effort of canning, that was good. Right?

No, not really. The carbon footprint of the industry isn’t worth it. Example: eggplants. In the winter they only come from Europe. Better to do without than ship them over.

Got that, Minnesota? Yes, you have no bananas; you have no bananas today, or ever again.

I nodded, if only because I don’t like eggplant, and decided not to pursue that particular line of discussion. After all, I didn’t have my glasses on, and he had a pointy scissors.

And this is why I go to a stylist (so to speak) who rebuilds sports cars.


  1. Brian J. »

    25 April 2013 · 2:15 pm

    By implication, the community has to be much, much smaller, which would mean that many, many people would have to starve to reach their goals.

    One thing about the commoditization and specialization of food production is that it allows us to feed far greater numbers of people at less cost than any time in our history.

    Strangely, the same people who preach locovorism would also claim to care more about the poor than people who like big business making cheap food with machines and technology.

  2. McGehee »

    25 April 2013 · 5:39 pm

    And the “carbon footprint” nonsense is, well, nonsense. It’s a newfangled way to demonize modern production and distribution in the face of their cleanliness and efficiency. Since they can’t complain about starving the poor and malappropriating their labor, now they turn those into virtues against the harm to Mother Gaia of not starving them.

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