Local Food or Organic: Which is More Important?
Last week's blog about organic food drew lots of comments from people who believe organic food is far better for you than conventionally farmed food and from those who think the whole "organic" label is a sham.
In today's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column I chat with Kate Gosselin of the TV show "Jon & Kate Plus 8" about her commitment to giving her large brood organic food. Gosselin's concerned about nutrition and pesticide use and also about the environment.
But locally produced food, organic or otherwise, addresses some of those same concerns. Since some nutrients may be diminished during shipping, locally farmed foods will probably retain more of their nutritive quality by the time they land in your shopping cart. And local farmers can select for flavor rather than choosing varieties that are hardy enough to survive long-distance shipping. What's more, locally grown food avoids the environmental impact of trans-continental shipping. And buying locally is good for your local economy.
Sam Kass, the Chicago chef who has worked for President Obama's family and who it's been announced will be working alongside White House head chef Cristeta Comerford, is an advocate for local food. (It will be interesting to see how he feels about working with D.C.-area food versus what he had access to in Chicago.)
Local trumps organic in my shopping cart. (Of course, it's not always either/or; many local farmers are also organic farmers.) Best of all is to buy what I can from farmers whose farms I can actually visit.
Many "locavores" -- proponents of the local-food movement -- acknowledge that it's nigh on impossible to eat only locally produced food (where would we get coffee?) and suggest picking local food only when it makes sense to do so. If you're thinking of going local, here's a set of guidelines to get you started; it features a tool to draw a 100-mile-radius circle around your home to give you a sense as to what "local" might mean to you.
(Check tomorrow's Food Section for a list of CSAs -- community supported agriculture farms -- that still have shares available for the upcoming growing season.)
What's your take? When you shop for food, are you more concerned about where it comes from or how it's raised?
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