Local Is Better Than Organic

Buy local
Buying local may be the best thing you can do for your community — and the planet.Β 

I’ve been singing the praises of buying locally and the locavore movement for quite sometime. But now, more than ever, there are concrete reasons why buying locally produced food and products is better.

Buying local is better than buying organic

It turns out that organic food grown in polluted locales contains, not surprisingly, high levels of pollutants like heavy metals. Hence, many people say that buying local, as in American-grown produce, trumps labels such as β€œorganic,” if the food in question was grown in a potentially polluted place. Moreover, many small food producers embrace the spirit of organic (no pesticides, antibiotics, etc..) but find organic food certification cost prohibitive.

Buying local is better for your community

There is strong evidence that there are significant social, environmental, and economic benefits to creating local economies. Having a larger density of locally owned businesses results in higher per capita income, more jobs, and greater resiliency in the local economy. A strong local economy translates into jobs and economic growth which increases the tax base which improves services for people in their own communities.

Buying Local is good for small business owners

Buying locally provides business owners with more control over their materials and end products and reduces transportation related costs. Whole Foods’ Local Food Loan Program has found that local food businesses are often innovators and have funded pioneering projects in biodynamic farming, non-GMO animal feed, pollinator health and sustainable packaging. The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) is a good resource for finding a business network in your area.

Buying local can change the whole country (possibly the whole world)

As BALLE states on their website:

There is real evidence that real national prosperity β€” even global prosperity β€” begins at the local level and that by connecting entrepreneurs who are re-thinking their industries, funders who are investing in the local economy movement, and network organizers who can mobilize on a broad scale, we can β€” and will β€” create a stronger, more resilient, and fair economy.

Many issues related to sustainability β€”from energy policy to recycling servicesβ€”are addressed at a local or state level. Successful policies often spread to other locales. As the folks at Goodfor20, who aim to inspire people to reallocate a portion of their food spending to local food sources, say: Small commitments can lead to big change.

Written by Jennifer Kaplan

Jennifer Kaplan writes about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for Insteading (and EatDrinkBetter.com before the two sites merged) and is the author of Greening Your Small Business. She is an Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone and was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster, an MFA and an MBA – follow her on Twitter.


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  1. Better for who? Certainly not better for you or your kids if sensitive to pesticides and herbicides. Not better for our local environment if we don’t insist our local farmers use sustainable/organic methods by buying organic foods. Demand is what drives supply. If we continue to support toxic growing methods, local or not, the increase of organic will lag. If we continue to support those local AND sustainable/organic farmers, they’re going to look for ways to increase their production and others will begin to see the opportunity to farm.

    I suggest encouraging local farmers who are not using organic methods, to do so. And let them know that you’ll support them and their slightly higher prices when they do make the switch.

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