As more and more people are seeing the benefits of buying organic foods, things labeled as organic are popping up in grocery stores and big box stores everywhere. You can find organic produce, meats, milk and other items in places you would least expect it. Many shoppers, seeing the organic label on foods at the grocery store are choosing to buy their meats and produce there instead of heading to the local farmers market. But, are they making the best choice?
Here are 5 reasons why foods purchased from the local farmer’s market are still better than organic foods purchased at the grocery stores.
1. Local farmers follow the spirit of organic regulations, not just the letter. USDA Organic regulations for animals state that they must have “access to the outdoors”. Big companies, seeing that they can charge more for having the “organic” label on their poultry or eggs, comply to this regulation by having a screened window on their chicken houses. The chickens can see the outdoors, but still spend their lives cooped up basically on top of each other with no space to roam about. The local farmer will have space for their chickens to roam, peck the ground and carry out other “chicken-like” behaviors, which is healthier for them and you.
2 Travel time. Organic food in the grocery stores may have still traveled
thousands of miles to get to the consumer, consuming gallons and gallons of fossil fuels and adding pollution to the environment. Local foods have not traveled far at all to get to you, reducing the carbon footprint tremendously.
3 Big corporations vs small farmers. Buying organic food from big box stores sends your money out of the local economy. When you purchase local foods from the farmers market, you are helping build your local economy. By supporting local farms, you are supporting people who live and work the farms themselves. Big businesses have no real connection to the foods they produce.
4 Pesticides. There are over 20 chemical pesticides that have been approved by the government for use on “organic” farms, many of them more dangerous than those used in conventional farming. The only way to combat this, to ensure that your food is pesticide free, is to buy from farmers that you know. Get to know the farmer, ask them what methods they use, know where your food comes from.
5 Reduced standards. With the entry of commercial farms into the organic business, comes big money. What is this money being used for? To lobby the government to lower the standards for organic certification and to approve the use of more synthetic ingredients in the processing of organic foods. All of this will help the big farms save money, but will do nothing to help small family farms or consumers.
So, before you pick up those organic veggies at the grocery store, think about everything that you don’t know about them. Then, make a stop at your local farmers market. Talk to the person behind the table. Chances are, they grew the food they are selling and they will be more than happy to tell you all about it.