Friday, January 14, 2011

Local vs. Organic

As I have mentioned in other posts, I have been more concerned with buying local than organic.  However, after watching the documentary "Food Matters" last night my view has changed.  The overwhelming concern about soil deficiency causing us (Americans mainly) to have significant nutrient deficiencies, which attributes to the cancer and disease epidemic, is much more prevalent in my mind now.  To think that I was buying "healthy" food when I chose the local produce from my supermarket, when it turns out that produce that is not grown organically is significantly deficient in nutrients (Food Matters).  "Organic food is known to contain 50% more nutrients, minerals and vitamins than produce that has been intensively farmed" (Organic Food Info.net) and when you cook this food the nutrients only decrease further (Food Matters).  Therefore, you will only have to eat more food (or take vitamins in pill form) to get the nutrients you need and as Organic Food Info.Net explains, "unfortunately that means eating more chemicals [and] more detrimental affects on your health eating something that should be good for you!"

A quote from Ken Pinare really hit home with me as well:

As we have learned, none of the certifications are perfect, but USDA Organic is the most prevalent and recognized of those related to food products.The most important to me is the restriction on synthetic chemical use, which is why I'm a little surprised by your statement on not buying organic produce. Produce is one the worst foods when it comes to synthetic chemical residues. The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) publishes a list of the items that have the highest levels of residual chemicals and recommends to at least buy the organic version of those. Also, regarding the tortilla chips, if you don't buy organic, you are surely eating GMOs. And the prices of organic are actually not that much higher if you buy the private label brands.

When you buy organic you are more assured of what is in your food (or rather, what is not) and where it is coming from.  You are paying for transparency and security, which makes up for the elevated cost.  This reminds me of the quote, from Food Inc I believe, "You can pay a little extra for your food now, or pay the doctor later."

image from http://www.saywhatyouneedtosayblog.com/2012/09/24/local-vs-organic-what-to-buy/

In terms of sustainability and curbing global warming, organic farming is crucial.  With organic farming the amount of GHG would decrease since the biggest part of fossil fuel usage is associated with chemicals (Sustainable Table).  Converting conventional farms to organic farms will not only decrease GHG in the atmosphere but will also rejuvenate the earth and soil to its natural state, helping all cycles of the ecosystem.  Organic farming aids carbon sequestration making them a carbon "sink", prevents dangerous run-off, etc. (Rodale Institute).

I still feel that buying produce from farmers market is the way to go, as the majority of these farmers are producing their food organically yet simply cannot afford the cost of certification.  I will continue to be more vigilant as I walk the isles of my supermarket.

Food Matters Documentary: Trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4DOQ6Xhqss

Sustainable Table. (2009, January) What is local? Retrieved from: http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/eatlocal/



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