Let’s define what we mean by organic and locally.

When we talk about organic products we mean those that have been grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods require organic fertilizers such as animal manure and compost. Similarly during processing of organic foods irradiation methods, industrial solvents or chemical additives are not used.

In referring to locally grown foods, several definitions exist. In this case I chose the definition used by the U.S. Congress in the 2008 amendment to the “Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act “: ‘‘The locality or region in which the final product is marketed, so that the total distance that the product is transported is less than 400 miles from the origin of the product; or the State in which the product is produced.

Based on these concepts I would mention some worthwhile reasons to eat organic and locally grown food.

1. Local products are much more fresh and seasonal. They are ripened without the use of chemical preservatives and are grown during their natural growing cycle. The produce is transported while it is still fresh and the time from farm to table is reduced.

2. Local, organic produce tastes so much better. Their flavors, natural juices and nutrients have been preserved because they haven’t been matured by force and their ripening process has not been artificially stopped to preserve them.

3. Environmental impact is lower. Chemicals harmful to the environment have not been used for their production or maintenance.  Additionally, organic material is reused to produce fertilizer. Thousands of gallons of fuel have not been used and untold amounts of gases have not been released into the atmosphere during transport because they do not travel thousands of miles to reach their final destination.

4. Organic produce helps to maintain green spaces and cultivable areas. Eating local and organic products helps support small farmers in our area as they keep their cultivable land.

5. Supports the local economy and encourages community relations. When you know where your food comes from, you establish connections with those who produce it.  Through the “farmer’s markets” that are very popular these days, you have the opportunity to meet farmers present in your area, socialize with your neighbors and make new friends.

All of these things and the benefits to your health make buying organic foods very well worth any added cost.

Also see “When to buy Organic” by Dr Martha Mejia, MD

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