American farmers have often complained that consumers take food for granted-that they think their food comes from the supermarket not farms. Unlike energy, another of life's necessities, the U.S. food supply is rarely subject to scarcities, price spikes or threats from abroad.

Best of all, we are self-sufficient in food thanks to American agriculture. The consumer can rest assured of affordability, availability and ample choices. But not all consumers are at ease over the food supply. A minority of shoppers is almost obsessed by food and how it is produced, processed and sold.

If taking food for granted is at one end of the spectrum then being obsessed with the food supply is at the other end. These consumers could go by a number of labels but "eco-shopper" seems to take in most of them.



Supporting this movement are certain environmental and vegetarian groups and authors like Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) and John Robbins (Diet for New America and The Food Revolution).

Eco-shoppers include locavores who think the food we consume should be locally grown. There's nothing wrong with a preference for locally grown farm products, but it can be taken to an extreme.

The notion that we should be deeply concerned about the miles our food has traveled to get to our plate in making food choices seems unreasonable and borders on the ridiculous.

The first person to be obsessed with food miles may have been former President Herbert Hoover. During World War I in 1917, Hoover was head of the United States Food Administration, and it was his job to get U.S. wheat past German U-boats to the Allies. At one point, England, France, Belgium and Italy were within a few weeks of running out of bread. Nearby sources in Russia, Bulgaria and Romania were cut off by the war.



Europeans never fretted during World War I that their food came from America, so far away. Today, it's different of course, and the local food concept and many eco-shopper ideas seem to have originated in Europe.

The Sunday Times writer Lucas Hollweg had some fun with it, admitting that he is "food confused" in Britain because every decision he makes is fraught with ethical choices. "Getting an organic New Zealand apple from the tree to your lunchbox releases 235 times as much carbon as it saves. How depressing is that? " he wrote.

Most critics of how food is produced in this country have their own agenda to promote. Pollan thinks the food issue is a great entr