Fashionable as it may be to favor local food, for footprint's sake, the advantage gets fuzzier as we delve deeper into the footprint factors.
...Like how far we drive to get this local food and how it is prepared.
Bottom line: footprint savings in food production are often dwarfed by the footprint of distribution, storage and preparation.
So, if you drive from Kilauea to Hanalei in your SUV to pick up your local fruits and vegetables...forget about saving the planet.
This illustrates how we'll need to resolve all our challenges together, and how, at least on Kauai, mitigation and adaptation are the same thing.
Recent research for the food footprints in Seattle found that the footprint of local, organic food was 50-80% smaller than supermarket food, yet if you drive 4 miles farther to get it than you would drive to the supermarket, you could blow the advantage...given the much larger footprint of our cars.
Oh, and, if the supermarket food is already processed and you eat it right away (so no storage is required), this can vastly reduce the footprint of processing and storing it at home...given the much lower efficiencies of the latter.
So, to mitigate our Kauai footprint, we need to grow organically, power renewably, and distribute cooperatively.
Just so, a Kauai adaptation strategy would focus on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels in ag, electricity, and transport.
See wot I mean? Same, same.
To nudge the nuance, take chickpeas, for example, says Robin McKie in today's UK Guardian:
Turns out, the chickpea poses a genuine "green dilemma". Says McKie:
"Chickpeas are sold in supermarkets in two versions: dried or cooked. The carbon footprint of the latter is far higher than the former. The only processing involved in drying chickpeas is to lay them out in the sun to drive off moisture. By contrast, heat is needed to cook chickpeas before they are tinned. Hence the carbon gram total for tins of cooked chickpeas would be far greater than those on packets of the dried variety.
'That seems straightforward,' says Graham Sinden, of the Carbon Trust. 'But you can't eat dried chickpeas. You have to cook them. And when you take them home you find the carbon you emitted when cooking those chickpeas exceeds the figure for the tinned variety - because cooking small portions at home is inefficient compared with that of large industrial kitchens.'
As a result, when the trust system is taken up and used widely, the gram measure on a packet of dried chickpeas will include an estimate of the heat that will be used in a customer's home to cook them. But that figure will be a guess, for it will depend on whether the customer uses gas or electricity for cooking. The former is more efficient and less prone to carbon emissions.
As for individuals who use renewable energy to heat their homes and kitchens, they would completely negate the point of carbon labels in many cases. 'That is why it is impossible to have accurate carbon labels on a lot of products,' says Gareth Edwards-Jones, of Bangor University."
Get it? OK, so it's not enough to just talk about "local food"...