Not Local?

Because New Escapologist has a political dimension, people will make not-unfair assumptions about the issues we’re “for”. For example, I sometimes receive article submissions about the importance of buying locally-produced food. Given that we’re associated with the Idler, this is perhaps understandable but culinary issues are somewhat tangential to Escapology and there’s a lot about the “Buy Local” movement that makes me uncomfortable.

In the UK, the sort of people who are most passionate about buying local tend to talk about “English apples” rather than “British apples”, a paralinguistic betrayal of their real agenda. Buying Local to these people is nothing to do with carbon footprints. It’s Patriotism.

If one is genuinely worried about the carbon footprint of importing, it is worth remembering that “abroad” may well be geographically closer than other parts of your country. Apples grown in Normandy are closer to London than anything grown in the North of Britain.

“It’s mad!” they say when they hear about Spanish asparagus being sold by a greengrocer in Solihull. “Mad!” Yet they overlook the logic that if there were no economic incentive, the greengrocer wouldn’t stock such goods. Who knows what other benefits are involved in importing? A single import initiative might be the lifeblood of an entire equatorial village for all we know. Even from a right-wing perspective, isn’t it better to let other nations do the dirty work while we concentrate on being world leaders?

Yes, there are advantages to Buying Local and New Escapologist is all in favour of certain types of autonomy and simplicity. But we’re not in favour of bumpkinism.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

2 Responses to “Not Local?”

  1. Fabian Kruse says:

    I have never experienced the “go local” initiatives as something patriotic. But it doesn’t surprise me too much neither, thinking about it. So, hooray for apples from the Normandy! 🙂

  2. Holly says:

    Yes! And the whole ‘local’ schtick fails to accommodate the fact that there are loads of things we can’t grow in our climate (wanna give up coffee and bananas anyone?) I bet loads of these people don’t actually give a shit about the planet anyway. They just get in their 4 by 4s and drive to the farmers market and feel smug about how local and organic they’re being.

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