There are so many things to talk about that I sometimes get overwhelmed. I’m back now, and I’m trying to decide what to talk about tonight.
Over the past few years, especially since Liam (our son) was born, I’ve gotten more into organic food. Most of you probably know what organic is, but here’s a quick summary: food (or anything, really) is classified as organic when it’s been raised without the use of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, and most other things chemical. When speaking of livestock, people also tend to throw the phrase “free range” into the whole organic conversation, meaning that the livestock in question was raised on actual pasture land, not in a mill-type setting.
Organic food has been such a pressing issue for me as a mom because all that “stuff” normally used to raise livestock and crops STAYS in the livestock and crops after it’s made into food. Hormones and antibiotics used in raising cattle are passed on to the human consumer in the milk and meat, which in turn causes fun things like antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria and premature puberty. I’ve already discussed in detail why these things aren’t good for the environment, but I want to emphasize how bad these things are for our bodies as well. Sometimes you can’t avoid the chemicals that have been used to raise our food, but it’s really good to try when you can.
But there’s a “new” thing in the whole organic discussion, and that’s the idea of buying locally produced food as well. It’s all well and good to buy organic to save the environment and one’s body, but how good is organic when it has to be shipped two thousand miles to get to your SuperWalmart? Consider this: organic food helps save some of the direct impact to the environment, but when it has to be shipped, fossil fuels are burned in transportation and the food itself is the process of decay as it’s transported. How does this help either our bodies or the earth?
I admit, buying organic isn’t easy for me. We’re poor folk around our house, and buying organic is tough enough. Throw local into the mix, and it gets even more expensive (who would’ve thought buying local produce would be MORE expensive…?). A lot of people have said that the best idea is to buy organic where you can and the rest, like fruits and veggies which can be washed off pretty well, can be substituted for the cheaper stuff. Buying local? Well, that means, if I would stick to my guns, that I wouldn’t be able to eat bananas. And a hungry two-year old is a two-year old who’ll eat a banana. This would be – well, not a tragedy, but a lost of a third of his fruit eating adventures.
Buying local means buying produce which can be produced in your area. Which also means you can only get things while they’re in season. So no more tomatoes in the middle of January, no apples in the spring, and forget eating bananas, oranges, or pineapple if you live in the midwest. Or artichokes and brussels sprouts.
So we have a choice to make here. Personally, I’m tired of thinking about it and tying myself up in knots over it. But we make choices every day regarding what we’ll do to improve the environment. And maybe, just maybe, my continued recycling will allow me to make the choice to buy produce which can’t ever possibly be local to me in Illinois, and when I can (the Farmer’s Market starts this week!!!), I’ll buy local produce, most of which will also be organic. And I walk to the Market to buy it. And this year, I think I’ll even take my own bags.