Support your community, buy local instead of organic

As much as I am a passionate scientist, enthusiastic about the restoration and preservation of the Earth, I think about more than just figures, graphs and insects. With a strong community foundation, I believe that local interests and values within the community become extremely important.

A shift from globalization to localization occurs and voila, a self-sustaining society is formed! These ideal groups of people would recognize and fulfill meaningful relationships with each other as well harmoniously residing with the Earth. OK, so I am being highly idealistic here, but my point is that we need to support local produce rather than organic for the benefit of our community and support of the local economy.

Local produce has a great deal of variation in definition. Some define locality by city, state, region, amount of travel (within a day’s distance) and local cuisine. While Texas is a large state, I try my hardest to buy within its boundaries. If faced with two items, one organic from California or one from northern Mexico, I pick the product with favorable proximity. “Localvores,” as we commonly can be classified, have their own definition that helps them support their community, whatever the boundaries.

Now when it comes down to the impact of local purchasing, it is vast. Many small or private farms rely on their local sales to stay in production and save their land from development. Other people find the freshness of closer produce more favorable. One of the most significant impacts is the reduction of fossil fuels. I buy as close to home as I can to help out the Earth while simultaneously building up a strong local economy. When you support a local farmer, it builds them a larger profit to then turn over to organic farming upon demand. Because of local buyers supporting farms, requests can be made for more organic and sustainable farming practices. Overall, people support a myriad of ideas from taste to environmental health.

The United States Department of Agriculture list of restricted pesticides is gigantic, but certain chemicals can still be used to treat plants. While harmful chemicals aren’t often used, if we don’t know about adverse affects, they could be out on the fields now! The last revision of the restricted pesticides added eight new banned chemicals that had been in production under the organic label until 2006. Though most organic products have been closely scrutinized for the sake of public health, it is important to read the label and look for adequate organic certification.

The qualms that I often file with organic produce is the locality. Is buying organic melons from Chile more environmentally friendly than purchasing local melons from Mission, Texas? It all comes down to what you value now. As time progresses and we watch the further global development, perhaps your mind will change, but for now, get me to the local Cowtown Farmers’ Market.