Local vs. Organic Food: The Great Debate

Experts weigh in on which is best

Two of the top buzzwords in the food world are “local” and “organic.” Everyone seems to be talking about The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating (Random House) and organic products are lining store shelves. The popularity of both movements is on the rise, but is one better than the other? We went to the experts to find out.

Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki’s “Queen of Green” and Nature Conservation Outreach Coordinator: “The best and perhaps most obvious choice would be to look for organic food that is produced locally. By supporting organic farmers, you are not only reducing your personal exposure to pesticides, herbicides, hormones and genetically modified organisms, you are also supporting organic farming principles. Certification hinges on maintaining standards that protect the health of our land, air, water and wildlife.”

Leslie Huffman, Apple Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: “The choice between locally grown or organic produce depends on the consumer’s priorities. In general, locally grown food is the best choice. Purchasing locally grown food will minimize the [environmental] impact of transportation needed to import produce, and will support the local growers and the local economy. Local growers offer the freshest, highest-quality produce.”

Serena Strulovitch, professional dietitian: “There are health benefits to both buying locally grown food and organic food. Organic foods offer the health benefit of not having any pesticides. Locally grown food is normally picked [at a riper stage] since it does not need to go through the long shipping process, so it often contains higher levels of nutrients. Since buying organic foods often means that items travel far distances and this equals high oil dependency and pollution, there is a benefit to buying locally grown food.”

One response to “Local vs. Organic Food: The Great Debate”

  1. Geoff says:

    It’s a no-brainer. If you buy conventionnal local food, you support agricultural pollution in your own backyard.