Organic or Local?

Well.  My answer is kinda neither.  And sorta both.  Let me explain.

I think when it comes to making smart, healthy and sustainable food choices people should consider not only organic or local, but seasonal as well.  This explanation could get a little long, but bear with me – I swear you’ll look at how your food makes it to your table a little differently.

Our bodies are quite possibly the most wonderful example of a nature in motion – the pinnacle of evolution or God’s finest creation – whichever you choose.  I think that eating seasonally should top the list of important factors to consider when choosing food.  Here’s why:

As I’ve become more in tune with my body, I’ve noticed certain cravings that crop up at certain times of the year.  I’ve also noticed that something that tastes so good in the middle of July just doesn’t taste the same in the middle of November.  My theory on this is simple: Mother Nature didn’t intend for us to eat things our bodies don’t need at certain times of the year.  And we crave the things we DO need at certain times of the year.  Historically, winter was a time of hibernation, reflection and literally fattening up for the spring days full of hard work and planting ahead.

For example: there is less sunlight in the wintertime, natch – hence the abundance of citrus such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit.  These fruits provide the vitamins and minerals we need like vitamin C, folic acid and fiber that our bodies need to make it through the long, dark winter days.

Likewise, we need more of the water, antioxidants, natural sugars and vitamins A, C and E found in stone fruit and berries in the summer to keep our bodies hydrated and detoxified as well as our energy levels up during the longer parts of the year.

So I think it’s important to move with the cycles of nature and adapt our eating habits accordingly, not the other way around.

Additionally, the monetary cost of shipping fruits and vegetables from South America in the wintertime only increases the bottom line costs of your food at the grocery store – not to mention the fact that supposedly “fresh” produce has been on a boat or plane from another continent for days – possibly even weeks – just to get here.

Which brings me to my next point – BUY LOCALLY.  Supporting local growers has much more of an impact on your local economy and it’s surprisingly cheaper than you might think.

Unfortunately, farmers are earning less producing crops these days than they did in 1969, despite the fact that American farmers have almost doubled productivity over the past four decades. Buying locally or directly from farmers can dramatically increase a farmer’s income. Buying direct from a farmer sends 90% of those food dollars back to the farm.  Increasing farm income means more money can be spent locally by the farmer to run their business and home, helping keep the local economy alive.

Not only are you going to be supporting your local economy, but you will be eating food grown right in your backyard.  I’m fortunate enough to live in an area of our country where just about everything grows year-round.  But even in Southern California, pickins’ can get a little slim in January.  If products are not available locally or regionally, look for items produced in the United States. Remember—local means as close to home as possible, in some cases that may mean oranges from California or Florida, rather than Chile or Israel.

Which leads us to the organic question: to buy or not to buy.  Honestly, most of the time I just don’t care.  But keep in mind, I also buy 99% of my produce at my local farmers market as well as my meat, eggs and fish.  I’ve found out by talking to most of the farmers that they don’t use pesticides on their crops so technically they’re organic, but that the cost and red tape involved with becoming a certified organic farm (it took me 7 clicks just to find this,) isn’t worth the hassle.  By actually talking to your farmers (again, another benefit of buying locally) you can find out if the produce your buying is organic – even if it’s not certified.

If you’re not able to talk to your growers, I recommend purchasing organics from the list of “15 Foods to Buy Organic”.

So, I hope that I’ve been able to shed some light on my personal philosophies on food.  And I hope that you’ve taken a few moments to consider where your food comes from and how you’ll purchase it in the future!

3 comments on “Organic or Local?

  1. Susan Weisberger
    November 9, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    I love your farmers market. Because of my good experience there I started to go to my Farmers Market here in Sedona. What is happening is that as more of us are go to the farmers market more vendors are coming to sell at the market.

  2. Celeste Weber
    November 9, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    The correlation that you have drawn between the seasons and our eating patterns is a sort of “lightbulb going off in the head” thing for me! Hmmmm . . . Butternut Squash Bisque and a big ole piece of Pumpkin Pie sounds delicious right now! Thanks, Heather! Great blog . . .

  3. Heather Keung
    November 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    I love our local Farmer’s Markets but they have all closed for the year. Can’t grow much with a ton of snow on the ground. We do have a local mushroom farm that is amazing and I love going there to get wonderful, fresh mushrooms!

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