We all want what is best for our family and what is best for the
planet too. Eating organic and local foods help us achieve these
goals. Is one better than the other? It depends. Let’s take a
look…

What does eating local mean?

Eating locally means consuming food grown near where you live.
The best time to eat fruit and vegetables harvested in our northern
climate is in late summer and early fall. But, even in winter,
locally grown apples, cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, turnips,
squash are available.

Why eat locally?

  • It’s Fresher: Locally grown food doesn’t have far to go from
    the farm to your table. Because it is fresher, it retains more
    nutrients than food that travels hundreds or thousands of miles for
    days or weeks before ending up on your plate.
  • Taste: Vegetables and fruits destined to travel long distances
    are bred to withstand shipping and a longer shelf life. Flavour is
    ultimately sacrificed. Produce intended for local consumption
    doesn’t have to stand up to excessive handling and shipping and
    these varieties are bred for taste. Tomatoes are a good example.
    Imported tomatoes are picked and shipped while green and under
    ripe, and are usually tasteless. Locally grown tomatoes naturally
    ripen on the vine and are juicy and full of flavour.
  • Protect your family’s health: Products that endure lengthy
    travel and storage times often depend on preservatives and
    additives. The more handling and shipping involved, the more
    opportunity for contamination exists. Knowing where your food comes
    from and how it is grown or raised helps you avoid or reduce
    harmful chemicals, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
  • Protect the environment: Long distance travel requires more
    packaging, refrigeration and fuel, and generates waste and
    pollution. Locally produced food doesn’t travel far. Lower carbon
    dioxide emissions, as well as less packing materials is kinder to
    the environment.
  • Feed the Local Economy: To survive financially, many farmers
    must become part of a complex food marketing chain. In the process,
    the relationship between farmers and consumers is lost. When you
    buy locally, money stays in your community and is cycled through
    the economy to create jobs and support local farmers.
  • Save Money: Local food often costs less than the equivalent
    imported food due to lower transportation costs and fewer middlemen
    involved.

What Does Eating Organic Mean?

When we think about eating organic foods, mostly we think in
terms of what is not allowed. Organic foods are grown without
synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or genetically
modified organisms (GMOs). Processed organic foods do not contain
chemical preservatives or synthetic additives such as food
colouring.

Why Eat Organic?

  • Reduced Health Risks: Chemicals designed to kill unwanted pests
    can also be harmful to humans. The best way to reduce your exposure
    to potentially harmful pesticides is to eat organically grown
    food.
  • It’s healthy: On average, organic food contains higher levels
    of vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium,
    iron and chromium as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants.
  • Great Taste: Many chefs prefer to use organic ingredients
    whenever possible and with good reason.
  • They simply taste better. Organic food is produced at its own
    rhythm acquiring nutritional elements from the soil at a natural
    rate, which helps to make them very tasty.
  • Save the Soil: Conventional farming methods involve growing
    only one crop season after season in the same plot of land. This
    method quickly depletes the nutrients in the soil. Organic farmers
    use crop rotation to ensure that soil nutrients depleted by one
    crop are replenished by another. Crops grown in rich, fertile soils
    higher nutritional value (vitamin C, phosphorus, iron, and
    magnesium)

The Verdict?

Buying locally grown, organic foods is the obvious best choice.
But, if locally grown organic foods are not available, it is better
to eat conventionally grown local produce than not at all.

The safest non-organically grown produce with the lowest level
of pesticides are asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, corn,
kiwi, mango, onions, papayas, peas and pineapples.

Non-organically grown produce with the highest levels of
pesticides are apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes,
nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes and raspberries. Choose
organic as often as possible if you are going to eat these
foods.

For resources on where to buy organic check out “˜Canadian
Organic Growers
‘.