If you are forced to make a choice between buying an organic tomato from California or one conventionally grown by a local farmer, which should you choose? No one wants to eat pesticide residues, but without your support, the local farm will soon be covered by asphalt and town homes. Local is also likely to be fresher. Most foods, even those at Whole Foods, are shipped long distances using up tons of fossil fuels (also referred to as “petroleum miles”).
If you are concerned about pesticides you should check out the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide that ranks fruits and veggies with the most and least pesticides. Even if your local farmers aren’t certified organic, chances are they are taking steps to curb their pesticide use. Search LocalHarvest.org by ZIP code to find area farmers’ markets and other sources of sustainably-grown foods near you. Also consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture subscription (CSA) — where you’ll be buying shares into a farmer’s annual harvest in exchange for weekly deliveries of produce, herbs, eggs, meats or flowers.
As you throw those organic raspberries from Chile in to your basket, ask yourself the question: “Is local the new organic?”