Organic vs. Local: What’s the difference?

7578738408_d2b5bff034_bMany people aren’t aware of the difference between organic and local food. In TIME Magazine’s recent poll, 23% of people think that local produce is always organic, but in reality, local produce does not have to follow the same regulations as organic produce. So which one is healthier? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for in your produce.

For those who are trying to decide between organic and local, here are a few facts about each to help make the decision a little easier:

Organic Produce:

  • Does not contain chemicals and has little to no pesticides
  • Can be purchased in bulk – if there’s something you like to eat a lot of, the better option would be organic
  • Organic farms help create jobs
  • Produce does not contain any genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Local Produce:

  • Contains more nutrients
  • Helps support your community – local food goes directly to the person growing the food
  • It’s fresh – local food is harvested the day before it’s sold, making it hard for other products to compete
  • Costs less

One idea to consider is using EWG’s list of the top 10 most pesticide-laden foods as a basis for deciding organic or local. If a food is high in pesticides it may be a better idea to buy organic.

There are pros and cons to buying both local and organic produce. If you’re looking for fresher, cost friendly food then local would be your best option. If you’re looking for produce with little to no chemicals or GMOs then organic would be the better option. So next time you’re deciding between the two, take these facts into consideration to help make the decision a little bit easier.

Photo Credit: Jamie McCaffrey

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  1. If you buy at a farmers’ market, you can ask what pesticides are used, if any, and if an item is a GMO. Often small local farmers do not go through the steps for the organic label, but can tell you what is used to help you make a better decision. (I know many growers that have told me this.) The freshness and higher nutrition means a lot!

  2. Don’t really like the vague aspects of this. We have a well established (10 year) local, organic market where everything is organic and locally produced. I would think this is optimal but you make no mention of this choice?

  3. Last year I created a free iPhone app to help people find locally grown produce and farmers markets. My vision is to get people out and on the roads to meet the local farmers, eat healthier, and to taste truly fresh foods. Check out our web site to down load the free app http://www.produceatlast.com

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