As consumers, we ponder the question, "Should I buy organic or local produce?" Though it's best to choose both, that's not always easy, or economical, especially during the winter.
According to Organic Lifestyle Magazine, organic advocates argue that organic is always healthier because it is not genetically modified and is not sprayed with chemical pesticides. On the other hand, the enormous carbon footprint involved in transporting produce is not environmentally sound. Buying locally saves on fossil fuels and supports the local economy.
But Which Option is Healthier?
A study by Stanford University claims that organic produce is no more nutritious than conventional alternatives. Yet, their findings also suggest that eating organic produce reduces exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
But is that enough to base a decision on?
Some argue that conventionally-grown local fruits and vegetables may be healthier than transported organic fruits and vegetables. The distance the produce travels and it's time spent in storage greatly degrades the enzyme and nutrient content. And, according to a study by Berkley, organic farmers CAN and DO use non-chemical pesticides, alternatives that are not necessarily safe ...
Most sources agree that it is better for the average person, not affected by chemical sensitivities, to ingest a little pesticides with a lot more vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. So if you want to follow "best practices," steer clear of the dirty dozen (produce known to be laden with high amounts of chemicals) and choose locally or regionally-grown produce when you can. Better yet, buy organic AND local if it is available and affordable.
Good Practices for cleaner, local food:
- Ask your grocery store manager to carry local, organic produce (when available).
- Shop at the farmer's market and ask questions: Does the farmer spray? Do they practice crop rotation? When was the produce harvested and how was it stored?
- In the winter, seek out a winter farmer's market (many communities have them) and shop there first!
- Grow as much of your own food as you can. Remember, even a southern facing window can yield a small indoor winter crop.