Explaining the Distinctions Between Organic and Local Foods

Explaining the Distinctions Between Organic and Local Foods

Are you as confused as I am about what’s organic and what local foods are?

A couple weekends ago we were visiting friends and my girlfriend confessed to me that she is very confused and frustrated about organic foods. “You too?!”

If a package comes from a large industrialized farm, is it still as “organic” as what we buy at the farmers’ market? How do we know if the veggie we buy is truly organic?

As we vented our frustration and shared information, I realized that we were talking about two different things. Local and Organic, and one doesn’t necessarily equal the other. I know, it’s confusing. For many of us, we automatically link the two together.

Explaining the Distinctions Between Organic and Local Foods

Organic vs. Local Foods

So, what’s Organic? The USDA qualifies organic foods as having no synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or GMOs (growth modified organisms). Pest control and crop nutrients must be managed through natural physical, mechanical and biological methods. Organic meat, egg and dairy products must come from non-GMO livestock. And they have to be allowed access to the outdoors all year around. They also can’t be given growth hormones or antibiotics either.

Local foods are a bit more confusing because different states, and consumers for that matter, have their own definition of what “local” means. The 2008 Farm Act says that local products must be made within a 400 miles of where it is sold. That means a product made in Chicago, IL can be sold in Nashville, TN as “Local”. Some states though have decided that in order to be sold as “local” it must be produced within the state. And many farm-to-table restaurants only use produce from within a 100 mile radius.

Local does not always mean Organic, though. When shopping at your local farmers’ market, talk to the vendor. Most often that is the farmer. Ask them how the livestock was raised or if they used chemicals on their vegetables and fruit. A certified organic farmer will have a certificate to prove they meet the USDA standards and many bring along photo albums to show-off their farms.

What does this mean to you?

In my opinion, both options are important. I want to buy local foods as much as possible. I want to know who produced it and what their philosophy is on producing their products. It has to be as fresh as it can be. But I also know that it isn’t always possible to get the products I want locally. Most of the time because they’re not in season here. And that is when I shop Organically, even it comes from 400+ miles away.


Was this article helpful? I hope it cleared up some of the confusion you had about the differences between organic and local foods. Please feel free to leave your comments in the section below. I’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy and Be Healthy!

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.