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The Santa Barbara syndrome

(article, Culinate staff)

In January, food activist Barry Estabrook attended a local-food conference in the nation's produce basket: California. The perfect place to celebrate local food, no? But as Estabrook discovered, in the farming paradise of Santa Barbara County, "fully 95 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the county are shipped in from elsewhere." 

What Estabrook dubbed the '"Santa is, in fact, not uncommon across the country, where a region's agricultural largesse is largely exported, leaving the locals with imports. 

If those locals are impoverished, then the contrast is even more extreme: "Even with all those healthful fresh fruits and vegetables growing beside its roads, Santa Barbara's obesity rate is in the top 20 percent of California counties."

In other words, if that local food isn't available and affordable, it's just scenery.