Americans are in the midst of a food paradox: we have access to more and better and cheaper food than ever before but at the same time, we are surrounded by junk food and a rise in obesity and heart disease. In this hour-long episode of Freakonomics Radio, host Stephen Dubner talks about our massive but balky food network with economist Tyler Cowen, who argues that agribusiness and commercialization are not nearly the villains that your foodie friends might have you think. We also hear from food author/philosopher Michael Pollan, who weighs in on a number of food topics and urges, along with chef Alice Waters, a renewed appreciation for the American farmer.
This episode also explores whether eating local is as good for the environment as we’d like to think. We check in on Santa Barbara County, Calif., one of the top agriculture-producing counties in the U.S. — which nevertheless imports nearly all of the produce it eats. And we run the numbers on how much carbon emission is generated by shipping food around the country (or the world). Finally, we ask whether there is a moral upside to eating food grown far away, and we offer some unconventional advice for people trying to help the Earth a little bit with every meal.
This episode is a compilation of two earlier podcasts: You Eat What You Are, Part 1 and Part 2.