Local v. Organic

in All Posts

Sleeping is overrated, apparently.


Well, for some of us.  Some of us (cough cough – me) like it.  A lot. 


An early morning means that our errands are completed!  I thought we had a fridge full of groceries, but looks were deceiving – we were out of produce.  So H and I hit the store this morning and found this awesome display.


Harris Teeter is making an effort to promote local farmers.  This display tells shopper exactly where the produce comes from, as well as the distance between the farm and the store.  I bought peaches from a farm that is only 15 miles away and zucchini from a farm that is 25 miles away.


The store is also promoting local manufacturers of other products, like my favorite BBQ sauce.


I’m always torn between purchasing local conventional produce and organic products (when you can get organic and local, that’s ideal, of course).  This topic is so complex that I devoted an entire chapter of the Healthy Tipping Point book to it (a whole book could’ve been written on it, though!). 

NEW! Healthy Tipping Point: A Powerful Program for a Stronger, Happier You

Some thoughts – but this issue is crazy-complex!:


  • Organic products are produced without pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and other chemicals, which is good for the environment and your body.  Conventional products are not held to the same standard.  As a result, conventional food is cheaper.
  • Organic is usually better for the environment, but not always.  Food miles are the measurement of the distance a food product must travel between where it is grown to where it is sold.  Increased food miles usually means increased fossil fuel emissions.  Blueberries flown in from Argentina might be just as ‘bad’ for the environment as local blueberries produced with pesticides.
  • Generally, local products usually have a smaller carbon footprint in terms of food miles.  It’s worth noting that local produces can actually use more fossil fuel depending on how they are produced – tomatoes grown in a hothouse in the winter, for example.  Similarly, conventional produces come with an additional fossil fuel cost because of the fuel used in producing and transporting pesticides and other chemicals.
  • Did you know the West Cost supplies 75% of the apples sold in New York City?  And the typical meal in America includes, on average, ingredients from at least five foreign countries?
  • One study revealed that green beans lose 45% of their nutrients in the 11 to 15 days between harvest, transport, sale, and at-home preparation.  Broccoli loses 45% of its nutrients in the same time span.  Thus, local greens may have more nutrients than imported greens because their travel time is lower.


A semi-local breakfast:


English muffin



Peach (so tasty)


Do you opt for local or organic produce?  Why?  I try to balance my concern for my health and the environment with price and my desire to support local farmers, so I tend to buy some products organic and others not.  Most of the time, if the produce is on the Dirty Dozen list, I opt for organic.



  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat August 15, 2012, 10:26 am

    Henry is looking more and more like his Daddy!

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More August 15, 2012, 10:30 am

    I’m not as good about buying organic produce as I should be but when I can make it to the Farmer’s Markets, I usually feel pretty good about what I’m buying.

    And Henry is getting so big! 🙂

  • Sara August 15, 2012, 10:31 am

    Actually, organic products can be sprayed with pesticides and herbicides–they just have to be organic pesticides and herbicides and often farmers use MORE of those when they have a problem because they don’t work as well. Most small, local farmers don’t use anything on their produce anyway (unless they have a problem) they just don’t go through the expensive and tedious process of becoming certified organic. Buy local, talk to your local farmer. Keep in mind too–we need large farmers to grow large amounts of foods for restaurants and for areas that grow mostly grains and not a lot of fresh produce. Good topic!

    • Caitlin August 15, 2012, 10:35 am

      Do you have a source for this?

      • Sara August 15, 2012, 10:38 am

        Sure. I work for an agricultural organization and I talk to farmers and professionals all the time on this. (I’ve been to many organic and conventional farms). I can see if my co-worker would be willing to answer your questions, or a farmer. The farmer I spoke to on this subject isn’t organic certified but some of his neighbors are and he usually grows most of his produce organically, he just didn’t go through the expense of the process just so he could charge more. The locals love his produce and they come and ask him questions and visit his farm.

        • Joni August 15, 2012, 2:52 pm

          Sara is very correct. Main-stream organics are (to me) much scarier than main stream conventional. I, and my entire extended family grow crops – from plants to fruits to vegetables. I can tell you there is a VERY LARGE selection of sprays labeled for organic production. As Sara stated, the problem with these sprays is that they are not as effective as synthetic and usually have to be sprayed more often. Also, just because a spray is ‘organic’ doesn’t mean it is safe. All organic means is ‘derived from the earth’. So for example, a very popular organic spray is copper. Copper is awful..look it up. It is essentially impossible for large scale organic farms to produce without some sort of spray. You are much better off buying ‘spray free’ or ‘low spray’ labeled produce from your farmer’s markets. I sometimes wonder what sort of long term health effects are going to pop up in 5o years from the Organic Movement.

          • Joni August 15, 2012, 2:57 pm

            And lastly,the average consumer impulse buys that organic label without actually knowing what it means. There are many people that think organic means no spray. I produce as much of my own food as possible and what I can’t produce I buy locally from SMALL farmers. Small is key. And another thing to note – the USDA certification process for farmers is LONG and very costly, so you might have some great producers that aren’t labeled organic for that reason.

      • Sara August 15, 2012, 10:40 am

        For local answers–try contacting your local extension agent: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/local-county-center/ They should be able to give you some answers about North Carolina produce, etc.

        • Sara August 15, 2012, 10:44 am

          My last comment–try contacting an extension agent, or go to your local farmers’ market…tell the farmers/extension agent that you’re a free lance reporter and about your blog, and tell them you have questions. See what they say! Ask an organic producer and one who isn’t certified the same questions and see what you find out. And the extension agent can give you info from both sides, hopefully. Email me if you need help. (I write about ag as my profession.)

          • Jay August 15, 2012, 11:10 am

            Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan also talks about how organic doesnt necessarily mean pesticide free.

      • Jessica August 16, 2012, 12:27 am

        She is correct and I back her comment. I worked (just changed jobs) for a Plant Sciences unit in a University Extension department. I would definitely talk to them as she suggested, as they have wonderfully up-to-date, unbiased resources as well as subject matter experts in the field.

        • Shallin August 16, 2012, 11:36 am

          I can back it up too – I interned for Pennsylvania Certified Organic and took organic produce production courses at Penn State. Producers can definitely still use pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, as long as they are allowable by the National List of Allowable and Prohibited substances, link on this page: http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/torg.html. Any of the Certification Specialists at PCO would be happy to talk to you about this – their website is http://www.paorganic.org/.

    • Clarie August 15, 2012, 3:54 pm

      This is so true! Any packaged food that says “organic” on the box is basically meaningless. That’s why I love my CSA, each week I get fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat by the family that actually pulled the veggies out of the ground that morning (and raised the cows, collected the eggs, etc.). It’ s irrelevant to me that they are not actually certified organic – I’ve had in-depth talks with the family about their practices, spent days helping to work on their farm, seen how they grow their produce and raise their animals, all of which is way more trustworthy than buying something from “big organic.”
      All of Micheal Pollen’s books are the popular and obvious reading material for anyone interested in this, with all the sources one would need on the subject!

  • Heather August 15, 2012, 10:32 am

    I go for local in that instance partially because a local farmer may not user pesticides. They are only going to use them if there is concern for losing the crop because using them when they are not needed is more money for the farmer. The local farmer may be small and thus not able to be certified organic. There is a family farm in my area that I like getting my produce from if I can.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB August 15, 2012, 10:32 am

    I think buying organic is healthier, but price is an issue. Say I have $25 budgeted for produce- I’m going to get, and therefore eat, a lot more if I don’t buy organic. I’ve been trying to go to a local farm lately to buy what I need, but sometimes convenience trumps all. I’m definitely a fan of being a locavore, but I’ve read some interesting things about the transportation costs maybe not being as different as we thought- generally local produce is shipped in smaller trucks, meaning less oil efficiency. Just an intersting thought.

  • Sara August 15, 2012, 10:39 am

    We’ve been very lucky living in Southern California to have CSAs at our disposal. We drive 8 miles to a farm every thursday to pick up a box of organic produce straight from our farmer. My son LOVES farm day and I have to work hard to keep the food out of his reach while I clean it – he’s been known to sneak tomatoes, fruit, and carrots while I’m trying to wash and put them away!! I know most of the country doesn’t have CSAs year-round, but it’s worth looking into, if even for the summer months only!

  • Ellie @ OurOldColonial.com August 15, 2012, 10:45 am

    I’m reading the Omnivore’s dilemma and am finding it extremely interesting and so relevant to this post!

    I’m finding out a lot of things I didn’t know about the whole process. I’m certainly going to try and up my consumption of local foods! Not only are they better for the environment and arguably my health, they are definitely tastier!!

  • Rachel O. August 15, 2012, 10:46 am

    do local/small farmers also need to subscribe/pay to be labeled as organic? a local farmer may have organic practices but may not be labeled as doing so because of cost.

    i also like the idea of growing your own garden. patio, indoor, gorilla, or small farm – i haven’t purchased a tomato or green pepper all season and i eat those the most!

    • Sara August 15, 2012, 10:52 am

      To be able to label your item as “certified organic” you have to be certified. The process is long and costly. Read more on USDA’s site and I found this interesting from their site: “People who sell or label a product “organic” when they know it does not meet USDA standards can be fined up to $11,000 for each violation.”

      • Sara August 15, 2012, 10:57 am

        Thought I’d follow up with my previous comment … if a local farmer said their produce is organic–it may very well be–but, if they don’t register and pay the fees, etc. to be certified organic, then there is no guarantee that they meet the requirements to be considered truly organic. But I think local trumps organic … just my opinion 🙂

  • Alex @ Brain, Body, Because August 15, 2012, 10:46 am

    Also, I’m beginning to wonder if the term “organic” really means anything at all. Have you seen this article? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/business/organic-food-purists-worry-about-big-companies-influence.html?smid=pl-share

    “The [National Organic Standards] board has 15 members, and a two-thirds majority is required to add a substance to the list. More and more, votes on adding substances break down along corporate-independent lines, with one swing vote. Six board members, for instance, voted in favor of adding ammonium nonanoate, a herbicide, to the accepted organic list in December. Those votes came from General Mills, Campbell’s Soup, Organic Valley, Whole Foods Market and Earthbound Farms, which had two votes at the time.”

    • J August 15, 2012, 2:00 pm

      Wow, thanks for that article. I knew that the whole “organic” label was pretty arbitrary, but I had no idea that corporate interests played such a huge part. Scary. We are part of a CSA and also buy eggs, yogurt, cheese, and some meats from the same farmers. It’s nice to go out to the farm to pick up your shares, chat about what the future haul will look like, and get recipe ideas. Supporting the local economy is also very important to me. I would rather see my dollars go to some hard working individuals rather than a corporation that may have shady business practices or support political movements that I am opposed to.

  • Ellen August 15, 2012, 10:48 am

    You should try the Food for Life GF Multi Seed English Muffins. They are my FAVORITE bready GF thing ever! So delicious with butter 🙂

  • Lauren August 15, 2012, 10:52 am

    We do the dirty dozen organic and then if there is a good deal on other items I’ll do those organic. We do get a lot of our produce, eggs and some other condiments and things at the farmers market so they are mostly local and organic. The organic eggs are a new addition for us and we did a store egg, organic egg shoot out and were surprised at how much richer and less sulfuric the organic eggs tasted. We will be choosing organic eggs from now on.yum!!

  • Vicky (Little Baby, Big City) August 15, 2012, 11:02 am

    We opt for local and organic produce. It’s important for us because we are doing baby-led weaning with our 6 month old!

  • Morgan August 15, 2012, 11:02 am

    During the Summer we are lucky to be able to get almost entirely local and organic produce. We live in Washington just outside Seattle and we have great Farmer’s markets and even the food that is not certified organic has signs all over it saying no pesticides etc. I trust the farmers posting that for the most part so I am able to feel good about buying local and almost organic. During the winter we are sort of out of luck. We freeze berries etc from the Summer, but other than that our produce is obviously from other areas.

  • Michelle @ Eat Move Balance August 15, 2012, 11:07 am

    I’ve heard different theories on local vs. organic. I tend to lean towards organic, but I recently read something to the effect of “local trumps organic”.

    It’s just hard, because if I’m at the farmer’s market and I ask if the produce has been sprayed with anything or if any chemicals were used, and they say yes . . . I have a hard time wanting to buy it. Even though it’s local. And even though I’ve been told the sprays/chemicals are better and less potent than those used by the massive industry producers. And then I end up at the grocery store buying organic, but it’s coming from all over the country. Ahhhh! I don’t know which is better!

  • heidi August 15, 2012, 11:13 am

    I think it’s also important to note that Organic products must be GMO free. Another incredibly complex (yet fascinating) topic and issue in the US and world today. For this reason I *always* purchase organic soy milk or use my own if a coffee shop doesn’t carry it.

  • julia August 15, 2012, 11:28 am

    Yes, I believe local trumps organic! I have heard about how little eating organic really impacts human or envi health–esp since they still use pesticides and herbicides. And since organic is so popular, it is the huge companies that provide most of our organic food. This isn’t bad, but it’s good to know that often when you are buying organic it’s supporting the agro industry–not what the label would lead you to believe. I guess I think that even if everything was forced to be organic, there would still be the exact same problems of major erosion and loss of soil, water shortages to major rivers, and still using lots of chemicals.

  • Jessi August 15, 2012, 11:36 am

    I don’t often comment on your blog but read it every morning. This is something that I feel very passionate about. I am fortunate enough to live in Oregon and subscribe to a CSA year round. I get all of my vegetables from my CSA box. The farm is not organic but like others have said they use organic practices but the cost of become certified is outrages and would add additional costs to me! I pay ~$15 dollars per week for a 1/2 share and it feeds a garbage disposal (my boyfriend) and myself! So, I get the benefit of organic and local, it is sustainable, and relatively inexpensive for the excellent quality of produce that I get. I think the best part though is being able to go out to the farm whenever I want, pick, converse with the farmer and his family, and truly see where my food is from!

  • Ali August 15, 2012, 11:38 am

    If I can, I try to go through an organic/local CSA during the summer. However, when I have a summer (like this year), when I move 1/2 way through or know I’m going to be working out of town a lot, I cannot use this option without losing a lot of money. My local farmer’s market usually has produce from organic CSAs so I try to buy that. If all else fails, I say local trumps organic just based on the fact that I want to support the people around me. Here in Wisconsin, organic can be outrageously priced (especially in the winter) and I have a hard time justifying the cost when trying to make ends meet. Organic/local>conventional>processed. During the winter/spring months, I usually fall into the conventional category just because of finances and location.

  • Elisabeth August 15, 2012, 11:53 am

    I definitely opt for local vs. organic. I actually rarely buy organic because I’m not really sure how important I think organic really is. I also don’t really care about organic because a lot of times farmers can’t even afford to do the work required to be labeled organic. Sometimes I buy organic brands of other items at the grocery because I like the brand/item, but I almost never buy organic produce. I’d much rather support my state’s farmers & buy something with a smaller carbon footprint (that tastes better, too!). I do buy things that aren’t local produce, but try my best to do so when I can. I live in a part of Ohio that unfortunately doesn’t have many farm markets (my first choice for produce).

  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras August 15, 2012, 11:55 am

    I’m lucky, because DC has a big local and organic movement. I get all my produce at my neighborhood organic farmers market.

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing August 15, 2012, 12:00 pm

    This is why it’s so important to TALK to the farmer’s at the market. MANY farms practice organic farming but can’t or won’t get the organic label b/c of time, money, and bureaucracy. The organic label is powerful but doesn’t mean your food is 100% clean. I truly believe that local trumps organic in most cases, but it requires research and questions.

    I like that grocery stores are starting to support local farms, but it’s still better to get produce from the source so that they get ALL the profit. Farmer’s markets and CSA’s are so wonderful and many can supply you with everything you need, including produce, milk, eggs, meat, bread, yogurt (I get all those things at my farmer’s market here in St. Louis!).

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) August 15, 2012, 12:06 pm

    I prefer local and organic, and luckily in the summer, the farmers’ market is all local & nearly all organic as well.

  • Michele Albert August 15, 2012, 12:06 pm

    I joined a CSA so from the beginning of June to the middle of December I have fresh, locally grown produce. I talk to my farmer each week when I pick up my produce. They are growing organic but are not yet a certified organic farm. My CSA has a facebook page where all of the participants can post pictures, recipes, ideas, etc. It has become a nice community. You might want to look into a CSA in your area. I have certainly enjoyed mine over the years!

  • Kattrina August 15, 2012, 12:11 pm

    I try to buy organic as much as possible (and definitely for the Dirty Dozen). During the summer we have local produce and I do buy that (especially tomatoes), but local doesn’t always mean small farmer either. We live in Purdue chicken world over here and so you could say that Purdue chicken is “local” but it’s also a huge corporation. I think CSAs are a great way to get local produce from small farmers and usually they are pretty pesticide-free (at least in my experience).

    I think it’s a tricky topic and it’s hard to decide what to do. I work on farmworker issues and there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in treatment of workers based on organic or conventional farms. Although farmworkers working on organic farms aren’t as exposed to as many toxins, they aren’t necessarily treated any better than on large conventional farms. I would appreciate knowing how a farm treats its crops, animals, and human workers – that would be a win-win!

  • Sarah August 15, 2012, 12:14 pm

    I generally try to buy local over organic- I think most local farms around here are farming responsibly (at least the ones at the farmer’s markets are) even if they are marked as organic, for reasons already discussed in previous comments. Thanks for the link to the dirty dozen- just printed it out to keep in my wallet!

  • Annette@FitnessPerks August 15, 2012, 12:16 pm

    Cute Henry!!

    I opt more for local–that stuff is deeeeelicious!

  • Jackie August 15, 2012, 12:23 pm

    I’m registering for baby gear and am tired of yellow and green. I’m nervous about getting cream colored things (like Henry’s sleep sack – so cute!) Is that just an unfounded worry? Are they hard to keep clean-ish?

    • Caitlin August 15, 2012, 1:29 pm

      We haven’t had a poop explosion yet so it’s all good 🙂 babies at this age are pretty clean – i think the trouble is once they start crawling!

  • Penny August 15, 2012, 12:31 pm

    Do you think you’ll focus more on organic produce once Henry is eating them as well?

    • Caitlin August 15, 2012, 1:29 pm

      Well he’s eating my produce through my breastmilk right now I suppose! But yeah, we’ll probably only directly feed him organic for at least a while.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life August 15, 2012, 12:32 pm

    I would love to buy only organic or local food but I feel it is so much more expensive. We are on such a tight budget that I can’t justify the cost. If there is a great deal on the organic produce or other products I always go that route. I’m not proud that my wallet dictates the grocery run over my health but I still feel that we can eat healthy and balanced meals even with out 100% organic items. I wonder what the real breakdown in cost is? I’ve never really sat down and tallied up a purly organic grocery bill with a mish mash of organic and regular items. I’d be interested to see what the real difference is!

  • Chantal August 15, 2012, 12:43 pm

    Have you heard of life cycle assessments? They’re basically an analysis of everything that goes into a product, cradle to grave (manufacturing, transporting, use, and disposal). They’re helpful when trying to figure out the environmental impact of a product, but the answer is usually that it’s really complicated. So even if you know that plastic bags are less harmful than paper (true story!), there are still “quality of life” issues that you (or policy makers) have to decide for yourself – is it better to use the greener bag and end up with a landfill filled with plastic bags?

    Anyway, there are probably analyses out there of transporting organic vs. non-organic local food, but there are always ethical/social issues to consider as well, such as supporting your local economy. Good topic!

  • Callina August 15, 2012, 12:54 pm

    Just started reading your blog a few weeks ago…wanted to comment, because I definitely agree with some other posters about local farmers who aren’t necessarily certified organic yet who utilize organic/humane practices to raise their food. The most important thing is to know your farmer, know how they raise their food and why–it can get very complicated, and like others have said, many farmers can’t afford to go through the incredible lengthy, complex and expensive organic certification process.

    I think, more often than not, your local vegetable farmer is going to be the best source for healthy, clean produce. Not only are you getting quality food that is very fresh, but you are also supporting your local agriculture community, which I think is very important.

  • Brigid August 15, 2012, 1:11 pm

    I buy most of my produce from the farmers market from producers who call their fruits and veggies “pesticide-free.” I consider that the best of both worlds. Of course, them saying so doesn’t guarantee their stuff is free from chemicals, but we do the best we can. And in the long run, given the choice, I will choose local and conventional over organic and from Ecuador or wherever, unless it’s one of the Dirty Dozen.

  • Janelle August 15, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Good conversation topic! I usually opt for local whenever possible, and then often organic when local isn’t feasible.

    Also, H is just the cutest little guy ever. You are so lucky to spend all day with him! Makes me want to quit my job and have babies… haha.

  • Karen August 15, 2012, 1:21 pm

    I apologize in advance for what might be a very stupid question (sorry – I just haven’t had the time to research this!), but does someone have a reference for a scientific study that shows the health benefits of eating organic?

    I of course can appreciate the theory – that food grown with fewer or no pesticides/chemicals should be better for you because it contains fewer toxins. But have there been any studies that show that eating organic leads to a longer, or lower incidence of cancer, anything along those lines?

    For the purposes of this question, I’m asking ONLY about health benefits to people – not the impact on environment, economy, local farmers, etc., although I recognize that these are all things to consider when choosing organic vs. non-organic. Just curious if anyone has seen literature about this!

    • Caitlin August 15, 2012, 1:31 pm

      Organic is not shown to be more nutritious than conventional but I guess the primary concern is the inclusive of pesticides. PANNA has some good info http://www.panna.org/issues/food-agriculture/pesticides-on-food

      • Karen August 15, 2012, 2:19 pm

        Thanks for the link! I really struggle with this issue, since (as others have mentioned) all-organic is just so darn expensive! And when it comes down to it, what I’m most concerned about is whether there truly is a health benefit – if there definitely is and I can see the studies to prove it, I might be willing to rearrange budgets and shell out the money. But until then, I just can’t justify nearly doubling my grocery budget. (I realize that this comment might get some people up on soapboxes…not my intent, just looking for more info!)

        • Liz August 15, 2012, 4:17 pm

          Your health is impacted in different ways, not just through intake. Pesticides and herbicides get into water systems and the air, causing major environmental damage that will inevitably affect your health. There are some pretty horrifying stories out there about farmworkers in the fields getting sprayed, and the health effects. I recommend reading Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland.

    • Laura August 16, 2012, 7:00 am

      Keep in mind that organic does NOT mean pesticide-free, and some of these pesticides are just as potentially harmful to humans as the alternatives used in conventional farming- take rotenone for example. This is a lipophillic chemical, meaning it is taken up and stored within fat rather than being water soluble and potentially eliminated from the body (http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/rotenone.htm, http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~lhom/organictext.html). In addition, because conventional pesticides and fungicides are often far more effective you essentially remove the risk from toxic moulds growth, such as ergot on grains and Aspergillus producing aflatoxin on peanuts. Google ergot poisoning and you will see what happened to those centuries ago who ingested contaminated grains!

  • Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) August 15, 2012, 1:26 pm

    Ah, the great debate I always have in my head! I’ve found that some local produce isn’t labeled organic, but after talking directly with the farmer (a bonus for farmers markets!) I find that some things are very close to organic (no pesticides, etc), but can’t afford the official certification from the gov. I thought that was interesting!

  • Christin August 15, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Great topic, Caitlin! I’ve wondered this so many times myself. During the summer/fall I pretty much get most of my produce from the farmer’s market, but it’s harder in spring/summer.

    Something I’ve wondered about: If it’s a choice between organic produce and hormone free chicken/grass-fed beef, which is better? Or I guess I could say, which is worse: pesticides or hormones, etc?

  • Amanda @ Veggies n Dogs August 15, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Hands down local. It takes 3 years for a farmer can even apply to be USDA organic. Also to be certified USDA organic is very expensive and some farmers may opt out just because of that reason.

  • Cristen August 15, 2012, 2:08 pm

    I’ve actually been giving this topic a lot of thought this past week after my 1st trip of the season to the local farmers market. Due to where I live, buying local is MUCH more feasible that buying organic for me. The biggest reason is because we have only have either Ingles Grocery store or Walmart available to us for groceries. The amount of organic produce available is very small and is usually from Mexico or South America. That defeats the purpose to me. If I want decent organic produce I would have to drive over an hour away. Again, defeats the purpose.

    Plus, just because a local farmer may not label their foods as organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not. They may just not have the financial ability to become an organic labelled farm.

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut August 15, 2012, 2:24 pm

    Great, informative post. I need to be more mindful of buying local/organic. I try to stock up on produce during Farmers Market weekends, but my schedule has been so random this summer, sometimes I just take what I can get when I can. Oh geeze, now I feel like a horrible person! ha

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See August 15, 2012, 3:03 pm

    I try to strike a balance, but as a college student with a small wallet, it can be hard! Especially with the dining hall scenario thrown in 🙁

  • Amber K August 15, 2012, 3:19 pm

    Wow, I always learn a lot from your blog. You bring up an issue and it gets me thinking and then I’ll read the comments and people blow my mind! Organic produce can still have been sprayed? Definitely going to look into this more.

  • Jacqueline August 15, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Great post once again, Caitlin. It’s easy to forget that there are areas in the U.S. that don’t have as many choices about organic/local/fresh as folks on the coast have. I recently visited friends in South Dakota (I live in CA now but am from Iowa) and their produce options in their main grocery store was bleak–at the peak of summer! My mom tries hard to eat fresh in Iowa and it’s not that easy. Crazy because it’s an agricultural state! If I were superwoman, I’d figure out a way to get the abundance of local/organic/fresh food from the coasts to the rest of the country in an instant without the footprint.

  • Kristen August 15, 2012, 9:25 pm

    Hey Caitlin you may have already answered this, but what kind of english muffins do you use. I have been eating the same ones for months now and I am looking for a change!

  • Michelle @ Fit Girl Blogs August 15, 2012, 10:39 pm

    Mmmm that peach looks RIPE! I had one in a salad today and it was so good. Love when they’re in season!

  • Emily August 16, 2012, 2:00 am

    When I was living in New Zealand I recall reading about a farmer there who said he uses less chemicals on his conventional than his neighbor does on his organic, but I think I’d be more interested in what the chemicals were rather than amount. I personally prefer local produce over anything else, as you never know what chemicals are legally used in other countries. I also try to grow my own, but living in the city means everything is still covered in pollution. I would like to support organic as much as possible for the environment and also I like to get unwrapped produce as much as possible – how crazy is the amount of plastic these days? Most stores here seem to single wrap the eggplants etc. In NZ I even came across single wrapped prunes!

  • Daniel August 16, 2012, 7:17 am

    I believe in the consumer’s right to choose, but as mentioned by a few others, the statement that organic plants are “produced without” isn’t a true. Here’s a good source to review from Scientific American: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/

    As well you can review the approved production methods on the USDA website that fall under “Certified Organic” labeling. Farmers are allowed to use various tools, but if ground cover and pest management strategies aren’t successful, they are forced to use approved pesticides and herbicides to ensure good yield.

  • Amanda August 16, 2012, 9:55 am

    Back in Florida, I’m fortunate enough to be a part of an organic garden project at a nearby school. I get most of my produce there, but if I’m buying produce it’s almost always organic and almost always local. If I had to choose local conventional or non-local organic, I’d probably pick organic (if it was affordable). If I couldn’t afford it, then I’m sure I could make do without that fruit or vegetable.

    Once again, I’ve been lucky enough to know all my local organic farmers, so I don’t ever have to choose between one or the other. (I know you don’t really like Gainesville, but it’s great for affordable local organic foods).

  • Keri August 16, 2012, 11:48 am

    I struggle with this question all the time. I agree that both local and organic is best. In the summer, that’s pretty easy, but Colorado winters don’t yield abundant farmer’s markets. So, I buy organic dirty dozen and local clean 15 if I can’t get local organic. I figure I’m at least making less of an impact with a vegetarian/vegan diet–even if it is just me in our house.

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles August 16, 2012, 12:05 pm

    Obviously, local and organic is the ideal, but if I can’t have both I try to go for local. I work on and off in a farmer’s market so helping out the local industry is important to me.

  • Claire August 17, 2012, 1:43 pm

    A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss just wrote a phenomenal post on the same subject today: http://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/friday-5/friday-5-5-things-to-know-about-buying-organic/
    Definitely worth the read!
    Especially this great graphic about who owns the big organic brands: http://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-17-at-12.33.22-PM.png backing up my claim that “organic” packaged food is basically pointless!

  • alli August 17, 2012, 5:00 pm

    i work for an agriculture company. we make all sorts of nutrient fertilizer for crops and such. we actually have a couple of pesticide products that are OMRI certified. While most, if not all, of our products are organic, the cost to get them all OMRI certified is quite costly. we aren’t a large company, so for now we just have a couple. i’m not sure what the farmers do on their end, but i thought i’d share a bit of what we go through trying to get the product certified as organic 🙂

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