Local Trumps Organic?... or "Beyond Organic"

Part 2 of 2
Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas

Last week we briefly traced the evolution of the organic movement, and it went pretty much like this:
-a halting start by a small group of radicals
-development of the lost art of true organic farming
-the foodies of the world respond and trigger the inception of Whole Foods Market and others
-Big Food gets interested due to surging demand and involves the USDA
-Industrial Organic is the result. Not a bad thing, but certainly not the same thing as true organic.

So, bringing the story up to date, did Big Food take the market away from the true organic farmers? Yes and no.

Yes, in the sense that consumers can now get a form of organic produce at their grocers'. No, in the sense that 1) demand for nutritious food that does not also spoil the environment or treat earth's creatures cruelly has grown commensurately with the expansion of supply, or perhaps faster, and 2) farmers have become quite entreprenurial, moving beyond organic to a place that is superior - local and sustainable as well. And it will be harder for Big Food to take that superior product away because their systems have difficulty operating locally rather than globally.

What is the local/sustainable market? How does it differ from simply "organic"? The differences are important. These are some of the factors that distinguish the two brands.

Local and sustainable puts its emphasis on food production and delivery systems that occur in close proximity to the consumer and enhances rather than depletes the farming resources of your community. The advantages are many, including but not limited to these several points:

-there is nothing more tasty or nutritious than food the day it is harvested. The longer it is stored after harvest, the more it deteriorates in both respects. Most of us know the taste deteriorates, but might not have considered that the nutrients are doing the same. Recent studies have demonstrated the loss of nutrients as shelf life increases.
-industrial organic depends upon a very limited variety of plants that have been developed for quick growth and shipping hardiness, not nutritional values. Local farmers can afford to grow the heirloom varieties, thus giving you the diverse nutritional values and a product that has reached its nutritional maturity on the vine or plant - shortly before you eat it.
-food that is grown where you live is more compatible with your system. We see this truth in plants and animals, so assume it is true with humans as well. One will always have trouble bringing seed in from Wisconsin and making it prosper here. That seed has adapted itself to a different geographic place. Similarly, your body is going to more quickly recognize plants growing naturally in southeast Texas, thereby utilizing that plant's values more completely.
-when you eat from the local, sustainable harvest, you are not only supporting your neighbors, you are improving your environment.

As the Europeans say, "eat your view".

Yours in the local harvest,


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