Mar 7th, 2007
The cover story in this month’s Time magazine is called "Eat Local or Organic?" This is a hot topic right now and after writing yesterday’s article on why we should question our food, a timely one as well.
Not long ago I had an apple problem. Wavering in the produce section of a Manhattan grocery store, I was unable to decide between an organic apple and a nonorganic apple (which was labeled conventional, since that sounds better than "sprayed with pesticides that might kill you"). It shouldn’t have been a tough choice–who wants to eat pesticide residue?–but the organic apples had been grown in California. The conventional ones were from right here in New York State. I know I’ve been listening to too much npr because I started wondering: How much Middle Eastern oil did it take to get that California apple to me? Which farmer should I support–the one who rejected pesticides in California or the one who was, in some romantic sense, a neighbor? Most important, didn’t the apple’s taste suffer after the fruit was crated and refrigerated and jostled for thousands of miles?
In the end I bought both apples. (They were both good, although the California one had a mealy bit, possibly from its journey.) It’s only recently that I had noticed more locally grown products in the supermarket, but when I got home I discovered that the organic-vs.-local debate has become one of the liveliest in the food world. Last year Wal-Mart began offering more organic products–those grown without pesticides, antibiotics, irradiation and so on–and the big company’s expansion into a once alternative food culture has been a source of deep concern, and predictable backlash, among early organic adopters.
No comments yet.