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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the fence: Local vs. organic

Picking up peaches in Hood River
This week I'm going to talk about things I'm on the fence about. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. If you don't feel comfortable leaving a comment, feel free to email me privately at shannon at workingmomgoesgreen dot com.

All summer I have been telling my husband that we need to drive to Hood River and pick apples, peaches and pears and support local. Local to me means Oregon grown. This means something different to everyone. Locavores try to eat within 100 miles and granted Hood River was about 135 miles, to me that is still local. (And yes, I'm aware we drove our car and used gas to get there.)

We belong to a CSA and I shop the Friday farmer's market most weeks but I wanted to take it a step further with my fruit. Earlier in the summer, I bought organic strawberries from the farmer's market and make freezer jam and froze some (along with blueberries) to pull out throughout the winter.

The day before our road trip, I did some digging on places to stop and I was hitting a road block -- local doesn't necessarily mean organic.  Local supports the Oregon economy which trickles down into the community. Local tastes better (and local and organic tastes better). Sure, I could go buy organic peaches year round but they might have been grown oversees. Look at the labels! Recently, I bought my son organic apple slices at Trader Joes. They were grown in Chile. Local fail on my part.

So we came home with our apples, peaches and pears and I used my veggie wash. I felt good about supporting local. I ended up making peach freezer jam, an apple pie and feasted on pears and bleu cheese.

So my new rules: Local and organic first. If you can't find both, go local if your options are US made versus overseas. If you have to buy local that isn't organic,  wash it well if it's on the dirty dozen list. Shop seasonally too. It tastes better.

I'm still on the fence a bit. I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I want to read Barbara Kingsolver's book about food. I think she talks about this. I think you have to weigh in *why* you want to eat organic-- health or environmental reasons? Local is better for environmental reasons. I think you're in a good space of weighing each item on it's own pesticide load vs. carbon footprint.

  2. Hey green working mom :) i came to this blog article via bend moms for moms. sorry if i sound scattered, my son still nurses through the night and i haven't slept in four years. here are my thoughts:

    the first problem with buying local over organic, is that veggie wash won't get off all the pesticides. a good deal of toxins reside within the flesh of the plant. the pesticides are IN those plants, as are whatever nasty chemicals are in their synthetic, and/or non organic fertilizers.

    another problem with buying local over organic are the farming practices. how were those pesticides made? where were they they shipped from? is the run off from the farm getting into the local water supply? is the local non-organic farm boardering an organic farm, thus polluting their crop? what kind of synthetic fertilizers are they having to pump into their crops because of poor farming and pesticide practices? how do all these factors weigh against shipping organic food from chile, when the pesticides used on local crop were shipped from just as far away?

    if you can't find local and certified organic, you can always get personal with your farmer and find out what their farming practices are maybe you can find a non-certified local farmer who still farms organically. the problem with this though, is it is unfair to the local farmers who do shell out the 2000 bucks to become certified organic (words from a local farmer i spoke to at the st charles farmers market this summer).

    on another note, i wouldn't ever want to support anyone with GMO crop. here's a decent article on GMO's.

    i understand going local is to sustaining the local economy as going organic is to creating a sustainable enviroment. but as the consumer, we create what we will be sold. if we demand a more organic market in our area, even more farmers will begin to provide it, soon so that everyone is not only sustaining our local economy- but sustaining our land as well.

    you have a good point about shopping seasonably, that could bring down each of our 'foot prints' dramatically. that, and eating out of season fruits and vegetables really isn't all that healthy for our primal body rhythm. eat with the season for holistic harmony.

    last, if it comes down to feeding my kids a bell pepper from a local farmer who uses pesticideds & who's product is a GMO, or feeding my kids a certified organic bell pepper from california, i'm going to pick the organic bell pepper everytime. even though the fruit is exposed to soot during travel, that can be scrubbed off with veggie wash. i won't compromise the health of my children to support farming practices that are hurtful to the enviroment. but then, i don't have to worry about that because i grow my own bell peppers :-P

    Just my two cents!

    love & light




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