When it comes to food, buying organic is buying the best for our families and our world. Pesticides are clearly a problem, and poison-free fruits and vegetables are definitely the way to go when you’re feeding young children. But what do you do when the summer’s bounty offers you the choice of buying organic or picking your own at a local blueberry farm? After all, buying local reduces so much waste in the form of dollars and fossil fuels. It also supports farmers near you, possibly reducing pollution, crime and destruction of natural habitats. To top it off, the food will certainly be fresh – which means more nutrients in every bite. If the idea of eating locally interests you, be sure to read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s a gem of a book!
I was talking with my girlfriends about this quandary: local or organic? Of course, we all wish we could have our cake and eat it too. And, sometimes you can. With CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) becoming more and more popular, it’s not too hard to get local, organic vegetables on a regular bases. I think it’s the fruit that presents a real problem. Have you ever gone to the store, hoping to indulge in some organic berries or peaches only to discover that the extremely limited organic options are quite uninviting? Moldy berries or rock-hard peaches won’t win my money, organic or not. That’s when I may head over to the conventional fruit stands, and none too pleased.
But, with a little planning, you can buy local fruit with ease during the summer. Search for local farms that offer pick-your-0wn. Harvesting is a fun, education outing for young children! It makes kids appreciate good fruit and it’s value so much more! Plus, you’ll save a few dollars by picking. PickYourOwn.org seems to be the largest database of farms that offer this service. It’s organized by state, but doesn’t have a very nice layout. Often there are better farm databases on a state-by-state basis, so do some searching online.
If you don’t have time to pick your own, buy locally at roadside stands in the country or farmer’s markets in the city. Again, you can scout out farmer’s markets online at Local Harvest. When you buy, don’t assume it’s local. Go ahead and ask where things you are interested in were grown. It’s not unusual to find food imported from across the country at a roadside stand. And, just by asking, you can share your preference to buy local. That’s how business is changed – one voice at a time.
However you eat locally, you interact closely with people that grow your food. This presents a unique opportunity to influence their growing methods. Maybe they don’t garden organically, but maybe they would… if they knew that was so important to you. Maybe they do garden organically, but they aren’t certified. Encourage them to keep it up the good work! And that’s why it’s a toss up when you consider eating organically or eating locally. Both options are exponentially easier on the earth than eating conventional produce from the grocery store. Both choices, eating local and eating organic, are a vote for a safer, healthier tomorrow. When you can’t find organic in the store – go out and find a farm near you!