Do We Buy Local and Organic Food?

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cow_cNot only is it true that we are what we eat, but, increasingly, what we eat is having an extraordinarily adverse impact on ourselves and our environment. Growing incidence of food-borne illnesses, diabetes, obesity, cancer (and many other human disorders related to pesticides) can be directly traced, at least in part, to the unsustainable and unhealthy ways we grow, process and distribute our food.

"When we run an item past the supermarket scanner, we're voting for local or not, organic or not."

That's one of the more critical observations made in the scathing new documentary film, "Food, Inc.," that raises important questions about the nation's food supply, its impact on health and safety and the big business the production of food has become over the last half-century.

Not only is it true that we are what we eat, but, increasingly, what we eat is having an extraordinarily adverse impact on ourselves and our environment. Growing incidence of food-borne illnesses, diabetes, obesity, cancer (and many other human disorders related to pesticides) can be directly traced, at least in part, to the unsustainable and unhealthy ways we grow, process and distribute our food.

Consumers may be attracted to having seasonal fruits and vegetables available in their grocery stores year-round, but the environmental consequences of shipping produce halfway around the world are considerable in the wasting of fossil fuel and the resulting release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The alternative is to buy local and preferably organic. But as Sun reporter Laura Vozzella recent chronicled, what chain grocery stores advertise as local could hail from as far away as Chile and New Zealand. Maryland law does not require stores to adhere to any particular standard.

That ought to change, but such a law would be only a small part of a solution to the problem. The real burden lies with food shoppers who face the choice of buying local or not, and organic or not, every time they shop for their next meal. Until they insist on more healthful options, all the grocery stores, markets and restaurants that have grown accustomed to the reliability and convenience of large-scale providers supplying faster, fatter, bigger and cheaper foods on demand, they are unlikely to change their policies.

Eating locally do not seem so difficult a chore in mid-July, when Maryland farmers markets are loaded with fresh corn, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers and other fare. Still, it requires more consumers to become better educated about what's available and how to find it and prepare it. People must also be made more aware of the many health and environmental benefits of buying locally.


www.baltimoresun.com

Comments 

 
+2 #1 Stan 2009-07-20 18:36 Organic doesn't always mean healthy, but it ALWAYS means 3-4 times more expencive! Quote
 

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