Organic, locally grown,…are they the same?

March 27, 2009 | Peggy Martin

Organic, locally grown,…are they the same?

Consumers used to ask me about products labeled for specific nutritional attributes such as sodium free, trans fat free and rich in omega 3’s. Now, they are asking if there is a nutritional advantage of organic foods.

The nutritional value of food depends on the soil in which it was grown, cultivar of the plant, growing conditions (weather), degree of maturity at harvest, handling after harvest, and time spent in transport or storage to name a few. Research suggests organic food production does not produce nutritionally superior food. It is more likely that ‘locally grown’ food may have a nutritional advantage because it isn’t picked prior to maturity, transported, and stored–factors that decrease nutritional value. Bottom line: organic and locally grown are not the same; the primary advantage of organic food production is not nutritional value, but environmental friendliness.

Does this influence my grocery shopping habits? Sure does! I am not inclined to purchase organic foods, which are typically more expensive, for better nutritional value. Instead, I look for nutritious foods by visiting my local farmer’s market where I can support the local economy, and being physically active in my garden.

If you would like to see reviews related to this issue, check out the USDA website  and Institute of Food Technology website .

              -contributed by Ruth Litchfield

Peggy Martin

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