A blog series by Lena: proud vegetarian, age 17, Geppetto intern
Many people do not understand the push to eat organically and locally raised food. The price difference between nonorganic and organic foods is sometimes large enough to cause devoted organic shoppers to question their motives. The main reason to eat organic food is to minimize exposure to the pesticides used in growing the food. Organic farms cannot use many of the harmful pesticides, making it less likely for consumers to eat pesticide residue. The decreased use of pesticides also benefits the environment by preventing pesticide runoff getting into the soil and water. While there are many benefits for the consumer and the environment, nutritionists agree that people should eat fruits and vegetables whether or not they are organic. According to Carl Winter, director of the FoodSafe program and an extension food toxicologist at the University of California, Davis, "The best thing you can do for yourself is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and grains. And eat variety. From my perspective, it doesn't matter whether they are organic or conventional."
While eating organically is better for the environment than eating industrially grown produce, eating locally is even better. Eating locally grown food ensures that the food travels fewer miles from farm to plate. This is more sustainable than industrially produced and distributed food. Supporting local farms by buying food from farmers markets and/or community supported agriculture (CSA) helps smaller farms stay in business. CSAs allow direct contact between farmer and consumer and in turn, they benefit both sides. Consumers are able to get fresher produce for less money, while the farm gets financial support and is able to continue producing. In addition to these benefits, Michael Pollan believes, “To eat from the C.S.A. box, with its newsletter chronicling the week’s doings on the farm, is to eat in a fuller knowledge of all that’s involved in getting food to our plates, including the necessity, and pleasure, of cooking.” There are many CSAs in the area, so if you are interested in joining one, check out this interactive map to find one close to you!