The Manhattanite who proudly shops at farmers’ markets and Whole Foods, and the farmer who delivers his produce to that Manhattanite, exemplify a choice that all Americans make: urban, suburban or rural? It may seem harder to lead a green lifestyle in an urban setting. But on a case-by-case basis, it’s not entirely clear that farm existence yields a smaller carbon footprint—or a higher quality of life.
Toby Hemenway certainly disputes the idea of country life as Utopia. Hemenway is a conscientious Oregonian whose fears about impending resource peaks led him to retreat to a rural community some miles outside of Eugene, with less-than-desirable consequences. Writing in the publication Energy Bulletin in 2004, Hemenway recollects
this change in lifestyle at great length; he analyzes then-emerging theories about sustainability and asks, is rural life really better for us and for the planet?