In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to choose between local or organic food. However, most of us have a food budget and may need to weigh what we feel most strongly about. So what’s better, local or organic food? There are nutritional, financial and even economic benefits and drawbacks to each.
Here are some pros and cons of buying local or organic food to help you decide how you and your family will nourish themselves.
- Supporting local farmers means you are keeping money in the local economy.
- Food has travelled a shorter distance, therefore reducing the carbon footprint.
- You are buying fresher food, which may be more nutrient rich.
- Knowing your producers means you gain trust and knowledge in their farming methods.
- Food is picked at its ripest and therefore may taste superior.
- Just because it’s local doesn’t mean produce hasn’t been sprayed or genetically modified.
- Spraying is harmful to human health and impacts the environment by leeching nutrients form the soil and harming local bee populations (bees are vital since they pollinate the majority of our crops).
- Despite being classed as locally grown, your produce could have been brought from several hundred miles away.
- Even if food has been grown locally, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has been packaged locally.
- There is no governing body to regulate how food is produced.
- Crops are grown without harmful chemical pesticides, fertilizers or genetic modification.
- Animals are raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones.
- While not necessarily more nutrient-rich, organic soil does contain higher levels of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals.
- No artificial flavours or colours are allowed in packaged goods.
- More expensive.
- Organic doesn’t necessarily mean the working conditions of people or living conditions of the animals are any better in creating this food.
- You may be taking business away the potential livelihood of local farmers.
- It isn’t guaranteed that food is going to taste any better than locally-grown items. In fact, the opposite may be true.
- The carbon footprint is likely higher as a lot of foods are brought in from greater distances.
It’s usually best to visit your local farmers’ market where growers come from your own community and to ask questions. Farmers will enjoy you taking an interest in their produce and farming methods. Farmers’ market produce isn’t dramatically cheaper than from a grocery store, but it is definitely fresher and undoubtedly more nutrient-rich.
And finally, when the farmers’ market isn’t a possibility, check out this clean foods list (the dirty dozen and clean fifteen list) for more advice on buying certain food items and their nutrition value.