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Abstract

’Buying local food’ is sometimes advocated as a means of reducing the ’carbon footprint’ of food products. This statement overlooks the trade-off between inter- and intra-regional food transportation. We investigate this issue by using an m-region, new economic geography model. The spatial distribution of food production within and between regions is endogenously determined. We exhibit cases where locating a significant share of the food production in the least-urbanized regions results in lower transport-related emissions than in configurations where all regions are self-sufficient. The welfare-maximizing allocation of food production does not exclude the possibility that some regions should be self-sufficient, provided their urban population sizes are neither too large nor too small.

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