Local-Conventional vs Organic

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I love going to the farmer’s market. It’s exciting to see all of the fruits and vegetables and the varying shapes, colors, and sizes. I go to a market near my house. It has your standard and your not-so-ordinary conventionally grown produce with some organic selections, when available. They also have local eggs, honey, Amish products, herbs and plants.

You can say I’m kind of an enthusiast for these stands and like to support small businesses and farmers within my community. It benefits us all when we buy from these farmer’s markets instead of the grocery store. Here are a few but very good reasons to visit your local farmer’s market.

LOCAL AND ORGANIC BY DEFINITION
Organic: an organic product that is produced by a Certified Organic farmer in accordance with the USDA’s National Organic Program regulations, which prohibit the use of pesticides and other chemicals and promote ecological balance and biodiversity.

Local:Produce that is grown within a 100 mile radius.

LOCAL TRUMPS ORGANIC, NUTRIENT-WISE
Locally grown produce is more nutritious than fruits and vegetables coming from thousands of miles away. This is because of the farm to table approach. Once produce is harvested at its “peak”, the nutrients begin to decline as time passes. From mass produced farms, fruits and vegetables travel from the farm, to a distributing warehouse, and then to your supermarket, only to sit until you buy them. Time wise, we are talking about a few days to a week, and sometimes even longer than that. Now, this doesn’t mean that conventional produce is more safe than organic, however, you do get more nutrient bang for your buck.

CONVENTIONAL VS. ORGANIC MATCH UP
Organically grown produce is actually produced without pesticides which is what we all want to stay away from, BUT depending on how long an organic farm has been using organic practices, the nutrition value can vary due to the richness in the soil.

Conventional produce contains pesticide residue and antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to high levels of toxins, imbalances in the body, and other problems, especially in vulnerable populations, such as children or people with compromised immune systems.

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SO WHICH SHOULD I BUY?
The answer, in my opinion, is BOTH. I think it’s important to eat food that have no pesticides and is organic, however, organic can be expensive. I have started to refer to this list when buying produce at the stand or in the supermarket. The list is ranked from 1 (the most amount of pesticides) to 51 (the least amount of pesticides). The first twelve are called the dirty dozen and should be bought organic as much as your bank account permits. As for the rest, it is entirely up to you, the consumer, to determine which you need to buy organic and which can be bought conventional.

I base my decisions on the list mentioned above, and the thickness of the skin of the produce. If it has a really thick skin, I buy conventional. If it has a thin skin (like apples and peaches), I buy it organic. It is also important to know what is in season in your area. Here in Florida, avocados, peanuts, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, watermelon, are being harvested and readily available. Click here to see what else Florida has to offer, month-by-month.

In the famous words of Jerry Maguire, SHOW ME THE MONEY!
My last point is quite simple. It’s much less expensive to buy straight from the farmer than it is to go to the grocery store. Period. Plus you are investing in your community and supporting small and local.

So I urge you to step out of the grocery store and take a look around at the stands on the side of the road.

Don’t know where to find a market near you? click here to find your local market!

Resources:
1. http://chriskresser.com/why-local-trumps-organic-for-nutrient-content
2. http://ucanr.edu/sites/ceplacerhorticulture/EatLocal/FAQs/
3. http://www.localharvest.org
4. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
5. http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Marketing-and-Development/Consumer-Resources/Buy-Fresh-From-Florida/Crops-in-Season

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