A few people asked yesterday about how I decided between local, organic or conventional grocery items. I figured I’d jump on in and open up a discussion on the topic. Note, I said discussion because I’d love your input as I go back and forth on the matter quite frequently. In an ideal world, I’d buy all local AND organic, but there are things to consider like availability, cost, feasibility, etc.
Let’s start with the pros to each as I see them…
Local food is picked at it’s peak and has very little transit time between the plant to your dinner table. Very often I’ve eaten kale picked that morning. Grocery store produce can be picked days or even weeks before it’s on the shelf, meaning it has lost many nutrients by then.
Local food is better for the environment. The average distance our grocery store food travels is 1500 miles, mostly by air and truck. Local produce also uses less packaging typically.
Local food supports the community and farmers you live in.
You can ask the farmers questions directly and even go visit the farm. It’s amazing how many foods are grown at a higher than organic standard, but can’t label it as such due to cost of organic certification. And even if it’s not grown organically, many times the local farmers are using much fewer pesticides than their big-name counterparts. Just ask!
Buying local supports biodiversity. Large companies tend to focus in on one crop, while a local farmer can grow a plethora of different crop varieties to help extend his growing season.
Local food is often more affordable and more of each dollar spent goes directly into the farmer’s pocket.
Organic foods contain less pesticides (they are allowed to use organic pesticides).
Organically raised meats are not given growth hormones, antibiotics or fed animal byproducts.
You know what you are getting with the organic label and don’t have to ask questions.
Organic food is always non-GMO.
Organic farming protects the soil and environment from toxic chemicals left behind from conventional pesticides and fertilizers.
So what to choose?
For me what I choose changes weekly depending on several factors:
– Time (how many stores am I able to visit?)
– Money (if I go to one of my favorite stores, Healthy Home Market, I can get most everything I need, but will have to be buying organic everything. That really adds up!)
– Who the food is for. If the food is for Hailey, I go organic. I’d say the majority of her food is still organic and I plan to do the same for Kaitlyn when she starts baby led weaning. Their bodies are just so tiny! I’m a bit more lenient if it’s for David and me.
– How much I eat of it. I buy conventional sour cream because a tablespoon or two twice a week isn’t all that much going into my system.
– Which list its on. I’m not perfect about it, but if it’s on the dirty dozen, I tend to go organic. I always buy organic greens and I try to remember to wash all my fruits and veggies well. As for meats, I really do the best I can to buy organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, wild-caught, etc. Again, not perfect about it, but meats are one of my main focuses.
So now I’m curious.
How do you decide what produce, meats and other groceries to buy?
What factors do you consider the most important?