Dynamist Blog

In Defense of Pricey Peaches and Foreign Fruit

In a column in Saturday's WSJ, I defend Michael Pollan's expensive taste in peaches but question the locavore ideal. Here's the lead:

Michael Pollan, the best-selling author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and a leading advocate of buying locally grown food, recently upset many of his fans by daring to put numbers on his oft-repeated prescription to "pay more, eat less." Eight dollars for a dozen eggs? $3.90 for a pound of peaches?

Those figures were way too specific and way, way too high to go unnoticed. The humanistic foe of industrialized eating suddenly sounded like a privileged elitist, and the local-food cause seemed insensitive to cash-strapped shoppers.

But Mr. Pollan was only being honest. Patronizing local farmers who produce in small batches tends to cost more. You may find some peak-season bargains at the farmers' market, but there's no such thing as a free locavore lunch. Getting fruits and vegetables only from local farms necessarily limits variety — few crops are available everywhere all the time — and it doesn't come cheap. Economies of scale apply even to produce.

Read the rest, and some interesting comments, here. My column will run every other week in the Journal's new Saturday "Review" section. For a bit more commentary on exotic fruits, see this post on my DeepGlamour blog.

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