Among the legendary White House myths such as Al Gore inventing the internet, now we can add a new one: President Bush creating "Buy Local." Or, at least taking ownership of the concept in his speech today on the economy and food and fuel prices. He also tossed off that he proposed this measure to Congress, and they have not responded yet.
Frankly, given my own state's reps and their advocacy of big subsidies for big ag, I wouldn't hold my breath on a huge buy local push. As for Bush putting forth a proposal for us all to buy local, the farm bill as it is proposed offers little support for non-commodity crops like fruits and vegetables, even with the subsidy revisions.
Regardless of what the president says, buying local isn't something we have to wait for Congress to legislate, it is something we as consumers have a right to choose despite the failed farm bill reforms. It is now, and has been for several years now, a consumer-driven grassroots movement.
I have to admit, though, the headline on that one almost got me. The president with the worst environmental record in history, George W. Bush, promoting local food. It was like an April Fool's day post, just nearly a month late.
Putting the comment back into context, however, you can see how little our president understands the farm bill and issues surrounding buying local. In that same response to the question on ethanol and food prices, Bush advocates increasing production of ethanol as a solution to fuel costs, then he tosses out eating local as a solution to food prices. See below:
"Actually, I have a little different take: I thought it was 85 percent of the world's food prices are caused by weather, increased demand and energy prices -- just the cost of growing product -- and that 15 percent has been caused by ethanol, the arrival of ethanol.
By the way, the high price of gasoline is going to spur more investment in ethanol as an alternative to gasoline. And the truth of the matter is it's in our national interests that our farmers grow energy, as opposed to us purchasing energy from parts of the world that are unstable or may not like us.
In terms of the international situation, we are deeply concerned about food prices here at home and we're deeply concerned about people who don't have food abroad. In other words, scarcity is of concern to us. Last year we were very generous in our food donations, and this year we'll be generous as well. As a matter of fact, we just released about $200 million out of the Emerson Trust as part of a ongoing effort to address scarcity.
One thing I think that would be -- I know would be very creative policy is if we -- is if we would buy food from local farmers as a way to help deal with scarcity, but also as a way to put in place an infrastructure so that nations can be self-sustaining and self-supporting. It's a proposal I put forth that Congress hasn't responded to yet, and I sincerely hope they do."
Um. If more and more farmland gets diverted to commodity crops for ethanol production, how are we going to provide food for the world AND have land left for local farms? If just fifteen percent of the food price issues were caused by using farmland for ethanol, how is using more farmland for ethanol going to be part of the solution? Not to mention the massive input of fossil-fuel based fertilizers that are used to grow that commodity crop conventionally. Or, the fact that current demand for local food may become greater than what can be supplied with only four percent of our nation's farms growing fruits and vegetables.
I'm not going to touch the one on why certain nations may not like us. Or drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
There are more holes in this logic than a block of Swiss cheese. So, it was not April Fool's. Just another fool in April. On the chance that this "new" buying local concept of our president's may sour you on the idea, please just keep buying local, it's your movement. Your choice. Your actions that are real here.
As for President Bush's new "green" image? Nice tie, I mean, nice try.