Authenticity, Mr. Potter writes, is "a positional good, which is valuable precisely because not everyone can have it." By competing against one another to see who is more authentic, he says, we just become bigger phonies than we were before. The local-food trend illustrates what Mr. Potter calls "conspicuous authenticity," by which the well-heeled embark on a "perpetual coolhunt," whether it is for authentic jeans, pristine vacation spots or mud flooring, part of the "natural building" movement. The overarching goal is less to possess the thing itself than to make a claim to refined taste and moral superiority.So much of what motivates human beings--and not just the kind held up to ridicule in Potter's book--is really just vanity; that vain (and, usually, futile) wish to hold oneself apart from the crowd. But as is so often the case, this wish can result in its wisher simply joining ranks with another crowd and taking part in just another form of this folly. Thus, the subtitle, "How We Get Lost Finding Ourselves." We get lost, probably, because we rarely ever do find anything more "authentic" than the life we are already living.