Tuesday, December 17, 2013

'Local food' for thought: How healthy is a commuter lifestyle?

I heard this morning that NPR has discovered "agriburbia." Here's a link to Luke Runyon's report on the phenomenon of developers building subdivisions centered not on golf courses, but on farms.

Of course, PlanCharlotte.org had an article on the phenomenon last April. Here's Corbin Peters' report on a hoped-for agriburbia development in Granite Quarry in Rowan County, "Putting a local food twist on suburbia."

But there's an interesting dilemma for developers and potential residents alike to ponder. Will the budding enthusiasm for "healthy living" on suburban farms take into account the growing body of research showing that long commutes by car can hurt people's health? As I sat listening to Runyon's report on WFAE, I was reading this report from the New York Times' Jane Brody in the morning Charlotte Observer: "Commuting takes a high toll on your health."

As Brody writes:
"A recent study of 4,297 Texans compared their health with the distances they commuted to and from work. It showed
that as these distances increased, physical activity and cardiovascular fitness dropped, and blood pressure, body weight, waist circumference and metabolic risks rose.

"The report, published last year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, provided causal evidence for earlier findings that linked the time spent driving to an increased risk of cardiovascular death. It revealed that driving more than 10 miles one way, to and from work, five days a week was associated with an increased risk of developing high blood sugar and high cholesterol."

Will fresh, extremely local food grown for agriburbia residents make up for those long commutes (assuming residents aren't working at home)?

And as plenty of people from author and New Yorker magazine writer David Owens (Green Metropolis) to Harvard's free-market economist Ed Glaeser (Triumph of the City) have pointed out, the carbon footprint of people who live in dense neighborhoods in cities is dramatically lower than even the more energy efficient house in the suburbs.

What's "healthy"? What's "green"? 

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/12/16/4549244/the-hidden-cost-of-commuting.html#.Uq93OY1Q1PE#storylink=cpy