Thursday, February 25, 2010
Local or Organic: Which is the better choice?
There is a food question that I struggle with almost EVERY time I hit the grocery store. It's no secret that in my little corner of Southwest Michigan, we don't have much in the way of super organic-based grocery stores. No Trader Joes, no Whole Foods. But there are stores that offer organic varieties on most things, and that is always helpful.
But here is the question. Which is better to buy, eat, serve: local or organic? Yes, obviously, both would be ideal. But honestly, unless you're rolling in cash, or live somewhere near a big city, that's tough. It works in the summer--I almost always buy produce that was grown within 5 miles of my house (if not in my own backyard.) I'm a big farm shopper--you'll understand this better if you've ever been out this way. It's farm country. (At our wedding, we served beer and wine that was made 2 miles away from our house.)
While I don't know that all (or even most) of the farmed produce I buy in the summer is organic, I do know that it's in season, and local--and I always feel like that tops everything. But sitting on the couch, eating cottage cheese (local) it made me think about whether or not I should be buying organic cottage cheese, and sacrificing the local quality?
In my quest for healthy living, not just internally but knowing how it makes me look outside, what do I do? I'm not going to forgo tomatoes because they're not in season. I'm guilty of buying blueberries from Peru. I try not to, but at times, I need a strawberry!! I just can't live through the winter on squash and canned vegetables alone--even if I did the canning.
This is not something I know the answer to. I buy farm fresh eggs--organic and local, given how I know the chickens are fed, treated, and cared for. I know a grass-fed beer person--haven't purchased yet, but keep meaning to. And in the summer, we have friends and neighbors who drop off endless amounts of salmon and perch caught in the lake.
But is this enough? Is purchasing organic more important than purchasing local?