Organic vs local

These days we have a reasonable range of organic food available to us locally whether through the supermarket, our local shops and/or box deliveries. However, in common with nearly all modern food, much of it travels substantial distances before it gets to us. In addition it is often out of season for our local environs. This has created a modern conundrum where shoppers seeking to buy organic must often choose a product with many air and road miles included in its true cost of availability. From a purity of food perspective the decision is easy, always choose the organic or biodynamic product. But if you are concerned about your carbon debt or eating in season, its sometimes seems that buying locally grown non organic is a better choice. This dilemma is nicely captured in a cartoon by Mike Adams.

The article accompanying the cartoon at is worth reading and goes into some detail to explain the options shown in the cartoon. Here in Australia we are relatively less affected by this problem than Europe in particular, where a great deal of the fruit and vegetables available seem to have been air freighted from the Mediterranean or the US. The ideal arrangement is to grow some foods yourself (homesteaders may grow nearly all their needs) and also to live near a variety of small farmers who produce the other products that you need. It is then possible to enter into schemes like Community Supported Agriculture where farmers and consumers establish direct trading relationships. The next best thing is a local farmers market, which fortunately are starting to become more common and feature a expanding range of products. I recently found the web site of the 1466group, two couples who have joined forces to farm biodynamically and to setup a Community Supported Agriculture system on the mid North Coast of NSW. As someone who tried to move away from the city and eventually came back for various reasons, I admire their efforts and wish them every success. Check them out here.