Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Buying Organic, Buying Smart.

There's a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today, which because of the subscription stuff I had to get through the back fence.

The gist of the article is, the potential benefits of buying organic are a mixed bag, and buying organic is not necessarily the more healthy choice. Here's a few highlights:

  • If the fruit and vegetables you buy are already low in pesticide residue, buying organic may not be anything more than a personal decision.

  • In meat and dairy, organic may be more healthy if one is concerned about hormone or antibiotic residues.

  • Organic does not always mean "family farm produced", and that is becoming less and less likely as big hitters like Walmart get green.

  • The benefits of organic food are in fresh products, not packaged and processed foods.

  • Organic seafood does not yet exist.

There are a couple of points that are not made in the article.

  • Organic food that travels a couple thousand miles in the back of a motor truck isn't doing the environment one bit of good. That's the concept of "food miles"-how far an article of food travels and what it costs to get to your table. It stands to reason that locally grown produce is fresher and easier on the planet if it comes from right down the road.

  • Supporting local producers is a way to keep your money in local circulation among your friends and neighbors. Charity begins at home, not half a world away among strangers.

  • Most important, every dollar you spend is a political statement about the kind of world you want your kids to live in.

The National Catholic Rural Life Conference has a lot to say on the subject of the politics and ethics of eating. It's well worth a look. I didn't think they'd mind if I borrowed their IS an important issue and I want to get the word out.


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