Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Thoughts on Local vs Organic: Why Not Both?

A reader left a comment on yesterday's post that echoes the local vs. organic question I hear often:
"Is there a difference in health and taste between buying fruits and veggies from the local farmers at the [farmers'] market versus buying organic fruits and veggies from stores like Whole Foods?

"Personally, I often find that the fruits bought locally taste a bit better than the organic counterparts shipped from the west coast or sometimes other countries. Even those that are not freshly picked but stored (like pears and apples)."
We all make decisions when it comes to what we eat. For me, the goal is to avoid pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and synthetic ingredients in my food. Thus, for fruits and vegetables, organic is paramount. Sure, a little flavor and nutrition may sometimes be lost in shipping and storage (especially of delicate items), but sidestepping pesticides is of utmost personal importance.

That being said, since I eat with the seasons, most of what I purchase is organic and local. (I'll never buy berries in January from South America.) Whole Foods does a very good job of highlighting in-season local foods, but they do have to make a profit, so selling asparagus in the winter is not unheard of.

Personally, I find that the less-perishable organic items (i.e. apples, cherries, bananas) taste fine even when shipped long distances.

Again, how we decide to eat is a very, very personal decision.


Anonymous said...

One thing I found out at the farmer's market on this question is that some local farmers do use organic methods but do not use the term organic because they have not been certified by the "certifying agencies". One I know is "transitional" in that the farm has been organic almost long enough (a few years if I'm not mistaken) to be certified; however he does not plan to get the certification for a number of reasons, cost and bureaucracy being among them. However, I trust him completely and consider myself consuming organic products when I eat his produce. It pays to ask the "local" farmers what their methods are and they, being proud of the quality of their goods, are generally happy to discuss how organic they may be.

Anonymous said...

I agree ... I think it would be an invaluable service if there were a compilation of the different farmer's in the NYC GreenMarket system and the methods used. I know at one point Rob showcased some of the farmers and frequently still showcases Nevia ... just wish there were more of that.

Chef Rob said...

Good points from both of you. I don't think any of the farmers I buy food from are actually "organic" in the bureaucratic/certification sense (including Nevia). That being said, I know them, they know me, I trust them and consider them friends, they answer my questions, etc.

Listing the growing methods is a great idea, but probably wouldn't fly with those using pesticides. Sort of like the labeling of GMOs?

jowdjbrown said...

This is behind the Leisure Valley Park (near Bikanerwala), and opposite the Kingdom of Dreams.
where buy fruits online