When people buy organic, they know they are not only making a better choice for their family, but also for the planet. Organic farming practices are, after all, sustainable.
Turns out that things are not as clear cut.
Take a recent New York Times Organic Agriculture May Be Outgrowing Its Ideals:
… as more Americans buy foods with the organic label, the products are increasingly removed from the traditional organic ideal: produce that is not only free of chemicals and pesticides but also grown locally on small farms in a way that protects the environment.
The article describes the blooming business of organic tomatos in the desert of the Baja peninsula in Mexico. Not only are the tomatoes shipped thousands of miles to US markets during winter, the water table is drying up and may cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem. Additionally, the same crops are grown year over year without crop rotation, essentially creating a monoculture.
So while the the tomatoes will be certified organic by the UDSA, the underlying principles behind organic agriculture are being left behind. Essentially, organic farming is no longer necessarily sustainable farming.
Speaking recently with an organic farmer providing produce to 200 families through her CSA, we learned about the clash of ideals with reality – consumers want tomatoes all year round. Very few people today want to eat by season, or by region. Our palates have become accustomed to a rich variety of foods, flown from all over the world and any time of the year.
What to do at the supermarket:
If you try to eat locally, you will automatically be eating seasonally as well. But you may be limiting your choices quite severely, especially if living in the northern parts of the country.
What are your thoughts on the intersection of organic / local / seasonal ?