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Living Maxwell

Better Choices

Local vs. Organic: I Choose Organic – Here’s Why

For several years, the local food movement has been gaining some serious momentum. Supermarkets are pushing locally-grown food and restaurants insert “local” into their menus as often as possible.

I have a good friend of mine who proudly and constantly tells me that he is eating local food all of the time. When I hear this, I just kind of shake my head. Why do I have this reaction?

While this issue is very complicated and the circumstances of every single piece food is vastly different, there is a lot more to this than many people realize and “local” isn’t necessarily better.

Yes, local food means that it has traveled a lot less (within 150 miles seems to be the accepted range) than something that has been shipped across the country.

Local also “supposedly” means that the food has been produced in a sustainable manner rather than from some industrial food operation.

But how do we know this? We don’t. There are no standards for local and there is no certification for local. There are, however, strict standards for organic and USDA organic certification.

Unless I am at a farmer’s market where I can look the farmer in the eye and ask him about his production methods, I just don’t know how local food has been produced.

How do I know that the farmer 20 miles away isn’t spraying his kale with toxic pesticides and polluting our water?  I don’t.  And this matters to me as I am gravely concerned about the abysmal quality of our water supply.

Furthermore, a New York Times op-ed piece by James McWilliams pointed out that lamb shipped from New Zealand to England caused much less impact to global warming than British-produced lamb.

Does this mean we should abandon “local”? Not at all.

This was simply one example and other examples may prove “local” to be much better for the environment.

MY TAKE

If I can buy local and organic, that is what I do and it is the best of both worlds.

I want to support local food as much as I can and will buy food at farmer’s markets where I have an incredibly high degree of confidence that the food is grown “cleanly”, even if it is not certified as organic.

However…..

1) Local food doesn’t necessarily mean better for the environment. In fact, it could be worse.

2) Local food doesn’t mean organic.

3) Supporting organic production and organic farmers is very important to me.

It goes without saying that local vs. organic is not a cut and dry argument, but I prefer organic over local because there are standards and I know what organic means.

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Living Maxwell

Better Choices

10 Organic Foods You’ll Always Find in My Kitchen

For someone who loves organic food so much and cooks so often, my refrigerator is surprisingly empty. How could this be?

Well, I go food shopping A LOT and pretty much only buy whatever I need for the next meal that I’ll be eating. I have the good fortune of being able to do this because an amazing organic market is literally less a one minute walk from my apartment.

Plus, I LOVE going food shopping and making multiple trips to the market in one day is not exactly a burden. Staring at all of the amazing fruits and vegetables in the produce section is one of my favorite things to do.

Even though I do tend to “buy on-demand”, you’ll pretty much always find these 10 organic foods in my kitchen:

COCONUT OIL I am a huge fan of coconut oil.  Not only is it high in lauric acid and great to use after a workout but it is one of the few oils that you can safely heat and cook with. (Olive oil is not one of them.)

Aside from using organic coconut oil in my smoothies, I use it as a moisturizer as well.

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Living Maxwell

Better Choices

The 3 Most Important Foods to Eat Organic

For many people, switching to an all-organic diet is simply not practical or possible. And I completely understand this.

So, if a person can’t keep an entirely organic household, what organic foods should they buy?

My Top 3 Most Important Foods to Eat Organic

1) MILK If you have kids, organic milk should be the absolute number one priority for the entire household. Do whatever you need to do to make sure that the children are drinking organic milk.

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Living Maxwell

Better Choices

Another Reason to Eat Organic – It is Essential for Managing Climate Change

Ever since I started eating organic food in 2001, people have asked me – why do you eat organic?

The most common answer that I give is that I don’t want to consume toxic pesticides or GMOs. That seems to resonate with people and they can easily understand it.

Over the last few years, however, my answer has evolved.

Of course, I mention the pesticides, but I also talk about how the chemicals used in conventional agriculture ruin our water supply (94% of our water now contains Atrazine) and sicken farm workers (residents in the farming community of Central Valley, CA are forced to drink bottled water because the tap water has become so contaminated from pesticides).

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livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink