Organic Isn’t Always the Way to Go

For many healthy conscious individuals, it may come as something of a surprise to learn that "going organic" isn't necessarily always the best or optimal pick.  The reasons that this is the situation are not instantly obvious at first glance, but in fact take a degree of reflection to discern. While organic is in general a very positive movement within the world of food and food distribution, there are some asterisks that should be applied to the now familiar "organic" label.

Organic Versus Local
In many ways, your best choice is food that is both organic and local, but that isn't always realistic.  For example, if you live in New York, you probably shouldn't count on those locally grown grapefruits or oranges.  One of the reasons that many environmentalists have an issue, at times, with organic foods is that they are often trucked or shipped from thousands of miles away.  Transporting food great distances means a great deal of energy is expended in getting food from the field to your plate.  Often organic foods use a lot of packaging as well, and the creation of these packages requires energy.  This, in turn, increases the carbon footprint of a given food item and hurts the environment.

Long Voyages May Cause Nutrient Content to be Lost
Just as long sea voyages once meant scurvy for many of our ancestors, the same is happening today to our food.  Whether grown with artificial chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides or grown with organic methods, when a food item sits around before consumption, valuable nutrients are lost.  This means that "going local" also can mean having more nutrients in the fresh food you buy.

And these issues, of course, lead us to somewhat of a trade off.  On one hand, you, as a consumer, will eat fewer pesticides by choosing organic food.  But, on the other hand, if that organic food is transported thousands of miles, it is likely to be less nutrient dense.

Smart Tips for Addressing the Organic Versus Local Issue
The dilemma of choosing between transported organic and conventionally grown food with pesticide and chemical exposure is a tough one.  One smart move is to look for foods that are unlikely to have many chemicals on them in the first place.  Safer conventionally grown options, such as root vegetables, are a far smarter pick than soft fleshy foods.  For example, peaches and strawberries should never, under any circumstances, be consumed in conventional form since these kinds of foods have soft flesh, which is easily penetrated by chemicals.

Organic is great for you, but that is not to state there are zero environmental concerns regarding organic.  Thinking through each and every purchase and evaluating it for both its health and environmental impact is not a step that is practical to achieve the next time you visit your grocery store.  Instead, consider selecting the products that are best for you and your family to be an ongoing process.

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