A look into the benefits and differences between local and organic food
Healthy eating has become such a popular trend that in this modern-day and age, where we keep hearing the repeating two phrases—eat local and eat organic. But what are they actually? Which is better for you? Here we show you the benefits of each category and we leave it for you to decide. Deciding which you prefer is a personal choice and depends on your own health, environmental and social priorities and responsibilities. Cha Siu Papers uncovers the difference between organic and local foods.
What is the difference?
What is local food? There is no single definition of local food but the main point is that it is within a close distance of where you buy it. Local food refers to the food which is known to be produced within 100 miles from its point of sale and consumption. People nowadays are seeking fresh, local produce rather than imported foods.
Organic food is the production of foods in farming without using man-made pesticides, fertilisers, growth regulators and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). This means to be labelled “organic”, products must follow a strict guideline (depending on the country of origin) to be qualified.
So the difference? Local food is in your area and may not be free of pesticides and man-made additives, whilst organic food is clear of these.
What are the benefits of local food and organic food?
This could be an ongoing debate for what can be named the “better” option. As mentioned earlier, it all depends on personal choice, but we can list some benefits of each and leave it for you to choose which suits you best.
Local Food vs Organic Food
Fresh and seasonal- you can taste the difference in the freshness of products grown locally. Moreover, seasonal produce can be chosen during hotter/colder months.
Supporting the local community- it’s a great way to support your local economy rather than wasting it on transport costs and extra environmental damage.
More aware of where your food is coming from- there is a better sense of understanding about the produce origins and usually an opportunity to learn about the farm it’s come from
Local foods may contain more nutrients- food ripens naturally and when it’s ready to be, rather than being frozen and defrosted or having chemicals which alter the growth and life cycle of the foods.
Reduced transport damage- transportation causes pollution, some products are flown, driven, shipped (usually at least two of these), creating a massive impact on the environment, so when food is local, this minimises the transportation needed.
Where can I find local foods?
Search around your area for local farmers’ markets/wet markets and supermarkets that supply food from your region.
May have pesticides/manmade additives- Although eating local reduces transportation pollution, the local food may not be organic and have the added artificial chemicals you’ve been trying to avoid
Fewer selection of products- the variety is cut down a lot if you can only choose what your local community decides to supply- there is also a limit because the food depends on seasonal conditions.
Can be expensive- these local foods are supported by the local community and may require harder labour for fewer amounts of people, which can increase costs of produce
Organic foods are grown on farms using environmentally friendly agriculture, meaning it reduces the amount of harm towards the environment through its ethical farming methods.
Implementing this further, it can protect the environment from chemicals and artificial farming methods, which others tend to use.
Generally, there is an emphasis that organic food is better quality than non-organic foods, and this tends to be true with the way its produced to have less artificial chemicals.
Eating organic can promote improved animal conditions, by not giving these animals antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal fed probiotics which could be harmful to their wellbeing.
There’s no GMOs, so the food tastes more authentic and you don’t have to feel unsure about what’s inside.
Where can I find organic food?
Organic food isn’t always grown near where it’s distributed, meaning it requires a lot of travelling (AKA “food miles”) which defeats the environmental purposes when eating organic.
It is also expensive to buy organic, but can be worth it in the long run.
The convenience of organic food can be quite difficult for a busy lifestyle, and it sometimes takes more time to find products which are readily available.
So… which is better?
Local food vs Organic Food
Weighing out the pro’s and con’s of each of these types of foods can help you decide which you think is best for you. You could include a variety of both to maximise the benefits of both and use this as a way to find which tastes you prefer. You can have a look at our zero-waste stores which provides some organic/local supermarkets you could look at for further inspiration.