Local? Sustainable? Both? Neither?

In a recent letter to Roger Albee, secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, one former dairy farmer wrote the following: “’Sustainable’ does not mean having the determination to lower costs in a difficult economy in order to farm. Ventilated animal housing, manure conversion into methane and heat exchangers for energy efficiency and by-product feeding are not examples of ‘sustainable’ agriculture let alone ‘totally green.’ They are examples of the efficiencies that expanding, conventional dairy farmers have been deploying for three decades to boost milk production and put their neighbors out of business, which is exactly the formula for low milk prices, resource degradation, farm attrition and lake pollution.”

How can we make “local” and “sustainable” more synonymous?  Can we even do that?  What about environmental sustainability vs. economical sustainability? Here in Vermont, we tend to believe that if food comes from our own state, it’s better to eat, it’s better for the economy, and it’s better for the environment.  While that is certainly true sometimes, it’s not always the case.  Click here to read the rest of James Maroney, Jr.’s letter to Secretary Albee.


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