You’ve heard us make the case plenty of times before that “eating local” isn’t economically efficient. But is there an environmental argument for doing so? After all, transport costs are obviously minimized when food doesn’t have to travel far to get to your plate. Right???

In this episode, host Russ Roberts welcomes frustrated environmentalist and head of research at Our World in Data Hannah Ritchie to talk about it. I bet there’s a lot in this conversation that will surprise you; I know that was true for me! We’d like to hear about what surprised you, and how you reacted to Ritchie’s message of hope.



1- While Ritchie thinks there is an environmental case for eating locally, it’s not related to the concept of “food miles.” How does she explain this? How should we think of food miles?


2- Ritchie says, “What I think people get wrong is that they just get the hierarchy wrong in terms of what matters the most for the carbon footprint of their diet.” What should be at top of decision hierarchy, according to Ritchie, and to what extent do you agree?


3- What are the advantages and disadvantages of “meat substitutes,” according to Ritchie and Roberts? What do you think it will take for such foods to catch on, and what might be the best reason(s) for people to shift more of their consumption to these foods?


4- Coming out of graduate school, Ritchie was gravely concerned about climate change. And while she’s still concerned, she’s pushing back forcefully against “doomsday” fears regarding climate change. Why did she change her perspective? What is she most hopeful about today? To what extent does her message resonate with you?


5- The conversation concludes with a discussion of Ritchie’s role with Our World in Data, which she describes as a group of “misfits in academia” sitting between academy and policy makers/journalists. We want to hear your answer to Russ’ question: What’s YOUR favorite data illustration from this site? Why?