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Thread: Choosing between local and organic

  1. #1
    Yoggy's Avatar
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    Default Choosing between local and organic

    I do my groceries at 2 stores: a small health food store, and the large supermarket next to it. Between the 2 of them, it seems I can only get non-organic produce that was relatively locally grown, or organic produce from half way around the world. For example, at the supermarket there are no organic grapes, but there are grapes from the States (about as local as you can get for certain crops), but at the health food store, the only grapes they have are organic from South Africa!

    I'm always hearing that we should "buy local" as much as possible, to reduce the impact on the environment. But if the only local produce is non-organic, isn't that bad for the environment as well, with pesticides and herbicides saturating the soil? I mostly buy organic for health reasons, but it's also better for the environment. So which environmental impact is worse: that from transporting organic crops 12,000 miles, or that from spraying pesticides and herbicides in the soil of locally grown crops?

    Since I consider organic produce more healthy for me, I will generally choose it over locally-grown, even if that means grapes from South Africa. But I'm interested in others' opinions on this as well.
    "Man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills" - Arthur Schopenhauer

  2. #2
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    I find this really difficult as well. I suppose we're lucky in that we get an organic box delivery and most of the stuff is local (which means it's full of cabbages and root vegetables at this time of year), but I do buy some organic stuff that's imported, mainly for variety

    Here some of the shops have recently started using "air-freighted" stickers so at least you can try to avoid that.

    I wonder why not much organic stuff is grown where you are?

  3. #3
    Yoggy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    You can get organic apples, berries and root vegetables here, but in winter, there's not a lot of variety of anything unless it was imported from the south.
    "Man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills" - Arthur Schopenhauer

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    When it's a choice between organic imported and non-organic imported it's a bit of a no-brainer which is preferable (if one buys into the organic thing at all). But I realise not everyone can afford to buy organic stuff.

    What annoys me is when supermarkets have something imported that can easily be grown here, such as carrots. I think they are getting a bit better about it though, because of consumer pressure presumably.

    Then just to complicate matters there's stuff that's grown locally but has a bigger carbon footprint because it needs to be grown in heated greenhouses or whatever. Aaaargh!

  5. #5
    Yoggy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    Quote harpy View Post
    What annoys me is when supermarkets have something imported that can easily be grown here, such as carrots.
    Argh, I know! My colleague at work is selling frozen fruit for a fundraiser: blueberries from Quebec, cranberries from Maine, and raspberries from Chile. Chile? I find it hard to believe that you can't get raspberries from Canada or the US!

    I bought a bag of blueberries and cranberries.
    "Man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills" - Arthur Schopenhauer

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    [LMNOP] ellaminnowpea's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    I'd personally go with organic as its much better for my health - who knows what those chemicals are doing to my body, nervous system, digestion, etc... I'd much rather be healthy. And although I've researched local farming, there isn't much I can do about certain fruits or veggies that aren't grown locally.... for health reasons, I'd buy them even if they weren't locally grown. I think it's a matter of doing what you can, buy locally grown stuff and organically grown stuff. The environmental impact of buying local blueberries is hardly better than buying another non-local but organic batch. I'd say we just have to do what we can without sacrificing our health.
    I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~ Alcott

  7. #7
    Hemlock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    Local, I never buy anything that's been flown round the world apart from the odd banana.
    I can't afford organic prices anyway.
    Silent but deadly :p

  8. #8
    AR Activist Roxy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    Good questions there Yoggy

    Personally, I only ever buy organic produce. It's not only better for my health, but also better for the health of Mother Earth. I also think organic farms are much better working environments for farm workers, as they are not having to deal with working in unsafe conditions with pesticides and herbicides.

    We are lucky here in B.C. that we get quite a lot of locally grown, organic produce. Admittedly, most of this is in the warmer months though.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    It is hard in the winter months. I buy organic and local if possible- if not, then just organic. This spring/summer, I am going to join a local CSA- organic and local- can't beat that. Hopefully that will help to make up for the organic stuff I buy from Far away...

  10. #10
    wishiwasswedish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    I usually buy organic at the supermarket and go to my local farmer's market (season permitting) to buy stuff like strawberries, blackberries, peaches, etc. There are no organic farmers around here (very few regular farmers-- most farmers here grow huge fields of soybeans or cotton rather than food crops-- the soybeans are used for cattle mostly )

    However, just because they aren't labeled "organic" doesn't necessarily mean they use bad stuff. Manure is pretty unavoidable, I've found, which is sad... (but what can you do? even organic produce at the supermarket is probably grown with manure... you can't give up eating food!!) but many local, small-scale farmers don't use pesiticides. But the state would charge the crap out of them in order to call their stuff "organic." Just find a farmer's market if there's one near you and talk to the growers. If none of them grow without the bad stuff, tell them you'd pay a little more if they did.

    I usually buy organic, but a good portion of my regular diet is grains and cereals that are cheap even though organic (thanks, bulk bins!) such as quinoa, couscous, wild rice, etc. The easiest thing, though, is to find some relatively maintenance-free crops and grow them yourself if you can. Good luck!

  11. #11
    songlife
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    ooooh I've been thinking about this a lot too! I live in Quebec Canada and in the summer I buy up the raspberries, strawberries, apples, etc that are in abundance here, locally grown. It's not organic except for this one place... if anyone else here if from Montreal, buy from Le Frigo Vert! It's a college student-run place that sells their own locally grown (on a farm outside Montreal) produce, they have a store right near Concordia. They're anti-capitalist, into veganism, blar blar blar, and you can even go and work on the farm on weekends if you like. It's completely organic and as a student-run sociality coop they believe in affordable and sustainable produce, their produce there is much less expensive than all the other organic produce in town. I can't go on enough about it. If you have roommates or a family or boyfriend/girlfriend, you can even pay once in the season and get hampers delivered to you weekly.

    There's also another place in town that you can get "pesticide free" spinach and stuff like that, it's organic and cheap it just doesn't say organic :P

    I still don't know what to do if I have to choose between locally grown and organic. I'm politically against buying stuff from the states, so I really stick to canadian produce as much as possible if not all the time. I'm really "nazi" about it when I'm in a supermarket, if they only have USA carrots (which are so easily grown here), I actually let them know that that's why I'm not going to buy them. Same with apples. If the produce isn't labelled I ask the people working in the market which of the produce is Canadian, and then I pointedly buy it

    I'm not eating mangoes and bananas much anymore even though I love them, I feel guilty every time I eat them because of the impact they have on the environment for being from so far away.

    I have an idea.. I think I'm going to freeze a ton of berries at the end of the season!!! We should all just freeze our fruit before the winter so we can minimize our importing throughout it.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Choosing between local and organic

    i just had a discussion about this with one of my close vegan friends this past weekend. she chooses local over organic, and i choose organic over local. my reasons are that organic produce doesn't harm the farmers and their families, it's better for the environment, it contains more nutrients than non-organic produce (and is much more flavorful and delicious), and doesn't contain any toxic chemicals.

    this is an issue that i'm still contemplating, however, so my views might change...
    You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
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