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
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
- 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
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
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
- 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
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
For resources on where to buy organic check out “˜Canadian