Friday, August 13, 2010

Organic vs. Local?

Slightly belated post, but we went to the Santa Monica farmer's market on Wednesday.  I am a big fan of late summer fruits and vegetables: red flame grapes, cantaloupe and eggplants.
Look at the beautiful colors of those peppers
We bought a bunch of red and green grapes (usually I like red better, but the green ones I sampled were unusually sweet and relatively thin skinned), Japanese eggplant and yellow summer squash for a pizza that I'll be making over the weekend, salad greens, heirloom tomatoes, and avocados.  Buying a lot at the farmer's market is great incentive to cook a lot at home during the week; while extremely fresh, I find that the farmer's market vegetables usually start to go bad after a week, so it's important to use it all up since it would be such a waste to toss out such wonderful food. Lately we've been eating a ton of great fruit.  Usually during the year we don't buy much fruit as my parents grow tangerines / clementines in the winter, loquats in the early spring, and plums in the early summer.  Nothing is really growing right now, outside of zucchini and mint, so it's been a nice excuse to buy fruit.  This season, we've had remarkable cherries (mostly bing), white peaches, and lately, cantaloupe and red flame grapes.  We've had pretty good watermelon and pluots as well.  There's nothing better than fruits at the height of their season.

I read an interesting post this week on thekitchn on the debate between organic vs. local (if you had to choose).  I'm relatively fortunate here with the Santa Monica farmer's market as I would estimate that maybe half of the farms are actually certified organic and that there is a lot of local produce all year round, being in California, so that you get the best of both worlds, but I would say that local is just as important, if not more important to me than organic, when buying directly from farmer's market.  Now if I were buying from Whole Foods, where I don't have any interaction with the farmer and don't see them every week, I would probably rely a little more on the certified organic designation to ensure that the preferred methods of growing produce are adhered to, but I have a certain trust in the farmers that I buy from week after week, even if they aren't certified organic.   I do still try to buy certified organic when possible, but I agree with thekitchn's argument that sometimes the process of getting certified can be too burdensome on an independent producer, and they can practice sustainable farming without the use of pesticides, which is what I am most concerned with anyway.

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