Organic vs. Local: Which is Better for Good Health?

Because consumer awareness has grown when it comes to pesticides, herbicides and genetically-modified (or GMO) foods, many people have elected to eat only organic foods that are sustainably produced.While it has been suggested that organic is the only choice when it comes to good health, this may not always be the case. Whether or not to buy organic or local is a complicated conundrum.

The word, 'organic' refers to foods that meet certain regulations according to the United States Department of Agriculture: they cannot be produced with growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or any other artificial ingredient.Clearly, the benefit to this is that consumers get a natural product.

'Locally-grown' refers to foods that are grown 150 miles or less from the consumer in any given direction. Benefits of locally-grown produce include freshness and support for local economies. Also, foods that are locally grown demand fewer resources (manpower, gas, etc.) in getting to the consumer, and consumers know exactly where their food is coming from. Consumers who make green drinks for overall health are advised to buy locally grown produce whenever possible. Individuals can also add a green supplement to their drink for added nutritional benefit.

The argument concerning whether to buy organic or local is a multifaceted one. The obvious choice for good health would be to purchase an organic product that is locally produced deriving all benefits? a fresh, natural product that demands few resources and supports local economies and sustainable agriculture.This is not always an option however, so what is the consumer to do?

The amount of 'food miles' should always be a consideration. This refers to the distance from where a food is grown to where it is transported. The larger the amount of food miles, the more energy is needed for transporting the product. Also, many organic foods (especially produce) have less nutrients the farther away they are grown.

On the flip side, a locally grown product is not always the best choice for sustainability if it can be more efficiently produced somewhere else. Certain types of produce, for example, grow better in some parts of the country than others. Also, while they are certainly fresher, locally grown products are not always organic.

The choice between organic and local will depend on what is available. Try local farmer's markets or supermarkets that specialize in local foods. It is certainly a benefit to know where your food is coming from and how it is produced.

Because products are not always marked at a farmer's market, people who prefer only organic foods should always check with the grower. Also, organic consumers who are regularly purchasing products grown far away may want to consider a daily multivitamin and a healthy green drink to supplement nutrients they may be lacking. Consumers who prefer to purchase only local products should look for those that are organic and/or sustainably produced.

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