Cookbook author Mindy Toomay's blog about eating for health, cooking with spirit, and celebrating life in northern California. Here she dishes up food rants and raves, recipes, and plenty of kitchen wisdom.

By your own efforts, waken yourself, watch yourself, and live joyfully.
-- The Dhammapada

Why not make a daily pleasure out of a daily necessity?
-- Peter Mayle


Local or organic?

The latest issue of Yes! magazine discusses an issue I've often considered. If I'm concerned about planetary as well as personal health, and I can't find food that is both local AND organic, which one should I choose?

Eating organic is important, of course. Organic food doesn't contain pesticide residues, artificial hormones, or genetically modified organisms. But the Yes! research says that local is always best, even if it isn't organic. Buying organic produce that is not from your own locale takes food out of the mouths (so to speak) of local farmers and burns huge amounts of fossil fuels in transport to your hometown market. Local food is, by definition, seasonal food -- and living in harmony with the seasons is a healthy practice for body, mind, and spirit. And local food is almost always fresher, especially if you buy at the farmers market, which means better nutrition and better taste.

Also, keep in mind that lots of growers who don't use synthetic chemicals and are committed to sustainable agriculture aren't necessarily certified as organic. Certification is an expensive and time-consuming process that smaller producers don't always have the resources to pursue. When I'm shopping for food, I talk with growers and producers if possible (another plus of the farmers market). Ask them about their growing practices and what kinds of chemicals that spray on their crops. Or at least read labels to see where a food was grown and choose the locally grown version of a particular food whenever possible.

Because I live in super-abundant California, I can usually buy food that is both locally grown AND organic. It increases my sense of well-being to know I'm supporting conscientious local growers and getting the highest quality food available.

Visit the Local Harvest website to learn about farmers markets near you, and to explore other ways to eat consciously, sustainably, and well.

Blessings and bon appetit!


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