Sunday, June 27, 2010

Local vs. Organic

Local vs. Organic

Let's clear up one issue: There is no such thing as local vs. organic. When it comes to consumer choice, we should be buying local and organic, though for mostly different reasons.
Why We Should Buy Local?

Local is really important as a deep investment into your local economy and developing a relationship with the person who produces your food. Not only do local businesses generate more local income, jobs, and tax receipts, but they also tend to utilize advertizing, banks, and services in the local community. In fact, a dollar spent at a local business turns over seven times in that community; while the same dollar spent at a box store or chain only turns over 2.5 times. Buying locally builds a healthy community on many levels. (For case studies on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of buying local visit the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies). 

Why Buy Organic?

If we converted all tillable acres globally to organic practices, we could sequester up to 40% of all the world's carbon emissions. This is the single largest strategy for mitigating carbon dioxide. There is nothing more significant to help us in our crisis with climate. In the U.S. alone, it would be equivalent to taking 216,000,000 automobiles off the road, or 25% of our country's CO2 emissions. This is most hopeful news out there.

Some might recoil at the organic or even farmer's market prices that are often asked for these products, but remember when we buy organic we are paying the grower for the full price of our food. This true price reflects our power as consumers to support our farmers, who sequester our own personal carbon emission excesses, such as those from our commutes, air-conditioning, and other "necessary" purchases that have been shipped in from off-shore, with sustainable farming practices. And in the production of organic food, unlike conventional chemical agriculture, there are no long-term ecological costs that are yet to be paid for by us or by our descendants.

Buy organic always, and encourage and buy local. Doing so is a direct investment in one of our very few, possible futures.

Guest contributor Tim LaSalle is CEO of Rodale Institute, which is dedicated to researching and educating farmers and consumers about sustainable agriculture.

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