Is it healthier to eat organic greens from 3000 miles away or non-organic locally grown greens?

a Whole Foods Market Customer


pierino September 9, 2012
Actually you may not be avoiding GMO's by buying local. That's because Monsanto controls so much of the seed supply. Check out the film "Food Inc." However soon you will know as a USDA rule will go into effect requiring that GMO produce be identified as such. It's not just the Arthur Daniels Midlands of the country that use GMO. Smaller farms do because they simply have no choice. Monsanto has systematically hounded "seed cleaners" out of business.
petitbleu September 9, 2012
That study was an interesting one, but I think they missed the mark on how the results would affect people who buy natural/organic foods. I buy organic when I can, not because of the nutrient levels (such a blanket term to begin with), but because it tends to be fresher and taste better (especially if it's from the local farmer's market), AND because I know I'm avoiding GMOs and massive growing operations where scale trumps ethics. Farmer's markets also provide a fun and comfortable venue where I can talk directly to the person who grew the vegetables. If I want, I can ever visit their farm and check things out for myself. A lot of areas even have local farm tours, where you can visit several farms over a weekend and see first hand who you're supporting with your dollar. Worries about nutrients are completely secondary.
ATG117 September 9, 2012
Timely question in light of the recent Stanford study, which I believe concluded that organic produce was not in any significant way healthier than non-organic. I haven't read the study or looked into this closely yet, and hope I'm not over simplifying, but it's probabl worth checking out for more concrete facts.
lloreen September 6, 2012
My farmer's market requires growers to be pesticide-free, yet none of the farms are certified "organic" because it is too expensive to go through the process. I prefer to eat their produce because I know that it is local and picked the day before. So ask the people at your farmer's market about their process - you might find that the non-organic growers are actually free of harmful chemicals.
That being said, I confess to eating Trader Joe's organic arugula by the bucket-full...and I have no idea where it is from! It is just so easy to throw together a quick salad...
This reminds me that I should sow some lettuce this week in the garden. Nothing is more tender than lettuce from your own back yard!
SeaJambon September 4, 2012
Such an interesting question.

For my personal consumption, I'd go organic/GMO-free every time. My preference would then be to buy local. And, if I'm buying in a Farmers' Market (which I do quite a bit) and can talk directly with the producer, it wouldn't need to be certified organic -- I'm willing to take the producer's word for how the produce is grown.

But what if I couldn't talk to the farmer (e.g, buying in a supermarket) and my only choice is something marked "locally grown" (popping up with regularity in my local grocery stores) and something certified organic but maybe from a state several hundred miles away? Then it gets trickier. The big arguments for buying local are the likelihood (but not certainty) that it is fresher than something that has traveled further and the lower use of petroleum products for transport and cooling. Do those trump my family's health? Is general health of the planet more important than the specific health of my family?

So, buy local from people you know and trust, or buy local that is certified organic -- definitely the preferred choice. When the choice is buy local but potentially full of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, or buy from far away but certified organic -- well the choice is more difficult and personal.
ChefJune September 4, 2012
For me local trumps organic.
Thanks for answering. That's what I thought, too.
HalfPint September 4, 2012
The latter. Because you can get locally grown pesticide-free greens that are not 'organic'. And because, 3000 miles is a long transit for greens. Makes me wonder how they managed to keep it 'fresh' during transit. Also, how much of the nutrients are remain in the greens if they've been traveling for a few days before it reaches the store shelves? I've always been taught that vegetables and fruit lose a good percentage of their nutrients (vitamins) as soon as they are harvested and cooking (i.e. boiling) further compounds the nutrient loss. Well, that's my rationale anyway.
pierino September 4, 2012
Yes, I agree as well. And "certifed organic" is a tricky one because many small growers don't have the economy of scale to do all the government paperwork. So "chemical free" is fine with me. The next big issue is going to be GMOs which will affect local farms too.
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