At a holiday party, sharing some local cheese, I met someone who I thought might give me some insight on an important question. I asked him what he thought was more sustainable, buying local produce that is not organic, or buying organic, even if it comes from Chile. The answer he gave surprised me, he said, “it depends on whether you care more about yourself or the environment.” Huh? Is there a difference? So, I pondered this for a while and came to this.
Although buying local organic food would be the optimal thing to do, sometimes you do have to choose. I realized that he was thinking people only choose organic, pesticide free, hormone free food because they care about their own physical wellbeing. This couldn’t be further from the whole truth. In fact most people who buy organic do it because it is the best thing for our environment and our future and the fact that it’s the best thing to put in their bodies well, that is a serious perk. Here’s why they do it:
• Buying local allows you to meet the farmers growing your food, ask them questions about their methods and connect with a food source in the Wimberley area. Being aware of local farms and their owners may be the most important part of re-localization. Our communities must become more independent in the next few years a nd growing our own food is the most important part of this task.
• Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of global warming, and plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and put it into the soil. In a 23-year side-by-side comparison, the carbon levels of organic soils increased 15 to 28 percent while there was little change in the non-organic methods. According to the 2003 Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trials conducted in Pennsylvania, if just 10,000 medium-sized farms in the U.S. converted to organic production, they would store so much carbon in the soil that it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road.
• Unlike chemical-intensive agriculture, organic agriculture doesn’t pollute waterways and estuaries.
• Organic agriculture is more labor intensive, creating more jobs per unit of food grown.
Quote of the Month: “Why don’t we pay more attention to who our farmers are? We would never be as careless choosing an auto mechanic or babysitter as we are about who grows our food.” Michael Pollan,
The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World
• Soil is one of our most important natural resources, and one that can either be cherished or squandered. Organic agriculture is a way of “investing in our soils,” and sustainably protecting this precious resource.