If you tunnel deep into the underbelly of the Face Book, you may find yourself inside a group of “real foodies” debating the issue of local vs organic. I’m not sure why, but someone decided this is an important debate.
And since the vast majority of my co-groupers are more pro-local than pro-organic, it’s time to address the silliness that is this argument.
What “Local” Means
In case you’re somehow confused, local just means the farm is nearby. It means nothing about ethics or practices. The virtue of local is that theoretically less fuel is used and theoretically fewer carbon emissions are expelled into the atmosphere. Even that belief is sometimes untrue based on the quantity of produce shipped across country vs the amount driven to the local farmer’s market or grocery store. You could argue that the gallon of gas or cubic foot of exhaust per bushel of produce is much lower when flying an airplane full of fruits and veggies.
Buying something because it’s local doesn’t guarantee many health factors. The produce could have been sprayed with RoundUp and every toxic pesticide known to man and yet brought to the farmer’s market and touted as “Local” and “Fresh”. So unless you know for a fact how your local farmer treats their soil and plants and waste, you’re basically choosing to pay for poison close to home instead of from far away. I’m not so sure that exotic far-off poisons are that much scarier.
Did we mention GMOs? There’s also the fact that your local farmer may be using genetically modified seeds to grow their produce or genetically modified alfalfa to feed their livestock. You really don’t want your genetic structure affected by altered food. It makes a difference.
Why Organic is More Important
Whether local or exotic, organic is organic is organic. There are some standards that each farmer must adhere to. Yes, it’s possible for farmers to cut corners after inspection. And yes, some organic pesticide sprays are just about as unhealthy as the conventional. But at least one thing should be guaranteed… no GMO produce. That alone is worth the extra dough.
In addition to GMOs, organic crops aren’t sprayed with RoundUp and other toxic man-made chemicals which have been linked to a host of long-term illnesses.
The Best of Both Worlds
In an ideal world, which is where I happen to live, the produce is both organic AND local. Every Saturday I trek into town with my children to buy local, grassfed pastured meats and local, organic produce. Not every vegetable I buy is certified organic, but it qualifies as both non-GMO and has not been sprayed with any pesticides.
There are additional biologically natural steps that can be taken to enhance the nutrient profile of the crops, but the standard mentioned above is the baseline from which we measure any potential source of food.