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Organic versus Local

Posted by duncan, 1984 days ago

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Reading discussion "Organic versus Local" - Join this discussion / 23 comment(s)
The perennial argument of which is greener, Organic or Local food?

This is a new discussion based around an old ecolocal post by Jane. My view is that Local food is better, even if it's not Organic, the lesser food miles still count. In that respect, the 100 Mile Diet is great resource for eating local if you're in the United States. For those of us in the UK, have a look at this postcode-based search engine for local producers.

Elsewhere, there are more and more articles cropping up on the web about this issue, like this one:

"Sometimes, though, local versus organic is a false choice--sometimes you can't find organic, or the local choice is bad"

The more I read, the more the 'local' choice is the better one, especially now that more and more supermarkets are pushing organic food in large quantities, causing the producers to cut corners once again.


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  1. Re: Organic versus Local by jack, 1940 days ago

    hi buddy, my heads full of useless shit, like a morsel of food travels 1400 miles to reach a mouth, or the national grid loses 70% of the energy it produces from fuel, i could fill a book of my own with this crap, but whats the point of regugitating?
    take nuclear fuel, ever here of thorium? its the greener option, you can hold it in your hand, altho it takes uranium to kickstart it, theres also much less waste to deal with too, but you know, with a million pounds of depleated uranium oxide dust blowing around in iraq, which the us military dont want you to know about, it is used in armour pearcing shells, i would,nt hold out much hope for thorium. i,ve lost the thread of what i intended, qh yes, organic v local, i use an ultrasonic washer to detox my fruit+veg, its a samson, i,m a raw foodie you see and since i dont drink on account of toxic water supplies, i only use a juicer.which supplys liquid sunshine to revitalize me.and you if you so wish, the soil is deplete of nutrition, you cant hope to eat enough to be hale,without spending half your time on the bog,so get a juicer and increase your vitality.you know, it takes about 4000 calories of energy to produce a lettuce, of 50 cals. nutrition, its a minefield

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    1. Re: Re: Organic versus Local by duncan, 1938 days ago

      Hi Jack,

      Welcome to ecolocal, nice post :)

      I don't mind you regurgitating some of the more interesting facts in this thread, I'd be interested to read them to be honest. I'd never heard of throium, for instance, so please feel free to share some more of those nuggets.

      Back on the organic vs. local thread, I just spotted this local recipe guide from over at the telegraph.co.uk website today. And here's a more considered post on the commercialisation of organic food elsewhere on ecolocal too.

      Reply to this comment

      1. Re: Re: Re: Organic versus Local by jack, 1937 days ago

        hi duncan, thorium is being studied by dr hashemy-nezhad in australia, they must have lots. its reported to give out much more power, about 50 times more and have a shorter afterlife, i think 350yrs. nuggets coming up, out of every £ spent at the supermarket the farmer gets 5p, the chemical company 30p and the supermarket 65p.hardly seems fair,does it?

        4 fruit, 15 plant species, 8 livestock species account for 90% of global food production, just 27 items, the others provides variety.
        cotton uses 10% of all agricultural land and a quarter of all the fertilisers, pesticides, etc, a very toxic harvest.
        animal protein has been known to be the cause of cancer since 1968, read THE CHINA STUDY isbn 1-932100-38-5.
        about one third of total spending in supermarkets is on soft drinks and bottled water, nestle own 75 different brands alone.
        it costs councils about £28 to dispose of 1 ton of green waste at composting facilitys, it sells for £7 a ton.
        trees are being investigated for electric supplies, honest.
        well thats enough for now duncan, i will just added that an organic allotement i visit uses tons of horse manure each year and has tested positive for arsenic and mercury amongst other
        soil contaminants, i dont eat anything from there of course, but its good company.

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        1. Re: Re: Re: Re: Organic versus Local by duncan, 1934 days ago

          Treehugger has a few things to say about Thorium too:


          And they point out this blog about Thorium in particular:


          Seems like I've got some reading to do...

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    2. Re: Re: Organic versus Local by luvcamerasnic, 1767 days ago

      Personally, I would take locally grown over organic. In our grocery stores, the organic food always is bruised and half rotten. I at least know that locally grown has less chemicals on it to keep it ripe.

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      1. Re: Re: Re: Organic versus Local by ecosrights, 1767 days ago

        That's a good point ,the local food often looks more appealling than the organic, but is that because we have got used to having "perfect" fruit and veg that has been grown using chemicals to get them just right, then waxed (in the case of a lot of fruit) to get them to shine, yet organic produce is "as is", therefore not as shiny or regular in its appearance? If you smell it, it just about always smells better - it smells of what it is! Organic produce is less likely to be forced, therefore is a natural product.

        Having said that, I think that htere are many things where local is MUCH better... potatoes being a key one... season is also important.

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  2. Re: Organic versus Local by JoP, 1927 days ago

    I think the concept of "organic" is somewhat confusing and also not fully understood.............how many miles does an "organic" product have to travel to a retail outlet before we would consider it to be no longer "organic" as so much fuel has polluted the atmosphere in the process of getting it on the shelf?!

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  3. Re: Organic versus Local by ecosrights, 1927 days ago

    I have to agree - just because something is organic does not mean it is the most natural it can be and that it has had minimal effect on the environment. As a consequence, i think that the order for this debate (for me anyway) is:

    Organic and local

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  4. Re: Organic versus Local by duncan, 1899 days ago

    Here's a quick read about local food in the New York Times - Why Roots Matter More.

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  5. Re: Organic versus Local by duncan, 1888 days ago

    Green Girls Global have a great answer to the 'Organic vs. Local' debate.


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  6. Re: Organic versus Local by duncan, 1856 days ago

    Here's a nice article on 'The Ethics of Eating':


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  7. Re: Organic versus Local by Anonymous, 1838 days ago

    I'm thirteen and I'm doing a report on Organic food vs. non organic food. I would love some more information on the topic. Thanks, Victoria

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    1. Re: Re: Organic versus Local by ecosrights, 1838 days ago

      Hi Victoria
      Hopefully some of the main links in the article and comments above will be a good help for you.

      There are very few foods where organic has proven health benefits, but milk is one.

      There tend to be 2 main schools of thoughts - those that are organic because they don't want the toxins in their body (who knows what the long term effects of them are - is this, in part, what's leading to the increase in a lot of diseases and illnesses such as cancer and asthma?) and then those who do it for environmental reasons. Those that fall into the latter group (such as myself, although I don't like the idea of the toxins) will also weigh up the food miles that goods have travelled - not just fresh fruit and veg, where it is easy to find out the origins, but packaged / processed goods (where do the ingredients for your favourite biscuits come from? Have the potatoes in your crisps come from the US?) and as a consequence try hard to buy unprocessed goods. There is a lot of baking and cooking goes on in our house and we have our own vegetable patch, as a consequence we can buy a lot of organic and locally produced goods, which is the best of both worlds.

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    2. Re: Re: Organic versus Local by duncan, 1838 days ago

      Hi Victoria,

      Welcome to ecolocal! Jane's posted a good summary of the benefits of organic and local food so I'll just say that a lot of people are going to farmers markets for precisely this reason - the food there is quite often organic and you know exactly where it came from too!

      Well, most of the time that's true, some of the bigger farmers markets sell food that has travelled a bit more than usual, but more often than not a local farmers market sells organic and local food.

      You can find a list of good selection of farmers markets here on ecolocal too:


      Do let us know how you get on :)

      Reply to this comment

  8. Re: Organic versus Local by Anonymous, 1835 days ago

    Only 4 percent of global warming is caused by vehicles and aircraft, so i hear, most of it is caused by power plant generation, which is wastefull, two thirds is wasted in conversion.
    Processed food accounts for 80% of global food which burns massive amounts of this poluting power, i include all that food processing that goes on at home, what everyone calls cooking. Once upon a time people shivered too, it warmed them up,
    burnt a few calories, real central heating, now we just turn up the heat, and warm up the planet as well, oh, and then theres obesity. Now for those of you that have swallowed this global warming malarkey, yes, we have probably brought it forward a few hundred years, but it was going to happen anyway, now this is providing the taxman with a marvelous opportunity to fleece us good and proper,just wait and see.

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    1. Re: Re: Organic versus Local by duncan, 1834 days ago

      Welcome back, Jack!

      Having just watched An Inconvenient Truth, it's clear that the world is warming up and that we're the cause of it. However, you can prove anything with stats, so I'm gradually consolidating all my thinking around the idea that although you can't prove any definitively more, it's a case of doing what will most likely help. That is to say that driving cars may not be the cause of global warming, but leaving it at home and walking to the shops is never going to cause harm, whereas driving to the shops most probably will.

      It's the same arguement the doubters use, but reversed. Most doubters I've encountered will continue to drive everywhere whilst there is no absolute proof that driving is bad for the environment. So, my new argument is to say that whilst there is an element of doubt, I'll do what I can to minimise my impact.

      Sustainable living - sustainable thinking ;-)

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      1. Re: Re: Re: Organic versus Local TREES by Anonymous, 1805 days ago

        l,ve tried to stop worrying about things i cant change, went for a walk with a difference today, trying to learn to move better, been having back aches amongst other things, alexander technic helps. Awareness is a big issue with me, lots of little things enter my mind and escape even faster, have you noticed that? insights come and go, slippery little things, Alvin toffler says chaos is generating bizarre new ideas, bewildering industries such as loneliness, and paranoia, leading to the death of conformity, the vapourisation of borders, These are now evident in society, the rules have changed, an emergent culture of greater individuality threatens all our communitys, especially in america. To get back to my walk, the trees were dying, dead branches on nearly all the trees i saw, not just old ones, how can we be so blind, it was like a cemetary for trees, i was shocked. Jack

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  9. Re: Organic versus Local by chipinoh, 1767 days ago

    I try to buy from local, family-owned farms whenever possible. I'm more concerned with the survival of the family farm than whether food is "organic".

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  10. Re: Organic versus Local by EviesEarth, 1765 days ago

    We purchase from a local organic farm. :)
    They started offering a wide range of produce a few years ago and have grown since.
    First and foremost-we have our garden that grows enough to feed all of our immediate family.
    And I also like to support organic because I believe that the more people that buy the more the demand will grow. The more demand, the more farms will begin to follow suit. And then hopefully we will have even more local organic farms.

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  11. Re: Organic versus Local - Books anyone? by Anonymous, 1749 days ago

    Hi there,

    I'm a 23 year old ovo-lacto-pescatarian (I only discovered I had a title a year ago: I eat eggs, dairy, and fish, but no poultry, pork, or beef). I have been focussing on local-organic eating. Both reasons are mainly environmental, but I'm also very conscious about my health. I am beginning to doubt my logic for stopping eating meat as an effort to be more environmentally friendly, since a large component of my diet is soy products. I am also completely lost about what to focus on: local, or organic. Your posts are all very insightful, but they seem to simplify the issue.

    Here's my take on it:
    Local decreases food miles, supports local farmers, and supports the local economy as a whole. I live in an urban centre and do not have a car, therefore I am restricted to the grocery stores on a bus/bike route (the farmer's market is out in the country). I can't, therefore, talk to the local farmers to see what chemcials they use, and how they minimize harmful environmental impact. Organic food availability has increased noticeably in the past 2-3 years in the grocery stores here. I like to think that the organic-certified farms, even if they are large corporations, follow proper sustainable farming practices (rotation, thoughtful irrigation, minimal chemical application, etc.) but I am skeptical - especially USDA-approved food. But what choice do I have? I don't want toxins to build up in my system, yet I don't want to be polluting the air with transportation toxins (I also developed asthma 4 years ago). I have started to choose local non-organic over organic that's made on another continent (I live in Canada) but neither choice makes me feel completely satisfied. I like to put my money into what I believe in, even if it means supporting large corporations who are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

    After that large ramble, I'm hoping to do some reading to make more educated decisions in the future. My environmental vegetarianism came about after reading "Natural Capitalism", and seeing the Woody Harrelson documentary "Go Further." Does anyone have any suggestions on reading material to help me out?

    Thanks, Emma

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  12. Re: Organic versus Local by EviesEarth, 1749 days ago

    Are there any local groups in your area that you may join? I would begin by doing a search online to see what types of organizations are in your area. Trying to find more like minded people, sometimes can really make a difference. As far as books, I get the bulk of my info on issues through internet searches. And also through talking with others.

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    1. Re: Re: Organic versus Local by Anonymous, 1749 days ago

      I will be moving to a larger city soon, and will see what kinds of groups/seminars are around. Thanks for the tip! Ideally, I would like to get an unbias (or as unbias as possible) opinion on the matter, more with facts that I can piece together as I see fit, then a group of like-minded people.

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  13. Re: Organic versus Local by EviesEarth, 1748 days ago

    I agree with you. I too like to make my own opinions. I am sure though, in a bigger city, that you will have a more diverse group to choose from.

    Reply to this comment

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