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Tyler Cowen Shares His New Rules For Mindful Foodies

Go grocery shopping with a top economist.

The best food doctrine may be no doctrine at all. In his new book, An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies, Tyler Cowen argues that while Americans will pay a pretty penny to eat well, expensive food isn't always the best. He shares his tips on eating food that's better for you, your wallet, and the environment.

1. Embrace imported food

"The locavore movement claims local food is better for the environment, but food from far away is often transported by boat, which actually costs very little in terms of energy. If you purchase something from a farmer who has to drive hours to reach distant markets that call themselves 'local,' that's not very fuel efficient."

2. Break your habits.

"After a certain age, most people have a very set supermarket routine that keeps them from trying new foods. For one month, try an ethnic or new supermarket. Even the simple act of learning a new store layout will force you to change your habits and consider alternative products—which can actually end up helping you save money."

3. Eat regional, not local.

"Consider what your environment is good at. For example, the United States is very good at mixing—cultures, workers, ideas, and food. Composition-intensive dishes will be most satisfying. In contrast, simpler is better in places such as Italy, where recipes have been the same for years. Less immigration can mean less innovation in food."

illustrations by radio


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  • TheDuffyAgency

    Wholeheartedly disagree with the first comment. For starters, you've negated the fact that, unless that boat is sailing all the way to my supermarket, there's going to be some pretty big fuel costs in the supply chain once it leaves the port in order to get to distribution points. 

    Secondly, there's no consideration for the context of local producers. " who drive hours to reach distant markets that call themselves local" do so because they get very little relative support from the general shopping masses, apart from those willing to turn up to not-so-local markets. They're almost certainly more aware of how fuel inefficient they are because they're having to budget every little expense into their movements in order to try and turn a profit. 

    Get what you're saying in theory, but it's only a half truth...and personally, not the best advice.