Maybe you -- like me -- have found yourself in the grocery store staring perplexed into a display of items considering back and forth: Organic or Local? Organic or Local?
The best answer, of course, is both! And if that's a choice, it always wins out.
For me, I tend to choose local over organic, and a very unscientific poll of friends seems to lean this way as well.
I would love to always shop organic. Obviously, the less chemicals used to grow your vegetables and the fewer man-made substances that go into animal feed, the less bad stuff we put into our bodies. That makes sense.
However, when the choice is between that and getting your food from a place you know, that's when the scales start to shift. Theoretically, if you care enough to buy local, you may know those farmers' practices -- visit the farm, check out their website. Maybe they are not fully organic because they don't raise their cattle on fully organic feed or in organic pastures. They are also most likely educated on good environmental practices, such as no-spray, no-till, pasture-raised or free-range. Just the fact that most aren't farming in huge numbers is an advantage to the environment.
Also there's obviously a huge benefit to both humans and the environment to not buying your produce or meat from huge corporate farms. Food corporations now know that there is a strong market for organic products, and while it's great that they are helping move the needle on organics, it doesn't mean their farming practices have completely reformed. Also, large-scale farming needs to learn -- and learn very quickly -- that scraping swathes of land bald is a leading cause of climate change.
And finally there's the shipping aspect: again, not good for the environment. Think of the reduction in fossil fuels if we weren't shipping tons and tons of food around the world every day. Think of what that would mean for air quality.
And think of how much better food would be for you if it wasn't sprayed with chemicals so it would look fresh when it arrived in your store a week or more later, and how much better it would taste if it was fresh right out of the ground!
People passing you as you stare perplexed into that display case might find you odd, but for all the reasons above, but there's a lot to consider, both for your health and the planet.