Locally grown food is only as good as the farmer who chooses not to poison you
by Vic Shayne, PhD
There’s a huge movement now to buy locally. This seems to make good sense, especially if you care about the environment, which you should if you like to breathe.
If you buy your produce from locally grown farmers, you’ll save the environment from extra fuel consumption, highway usage, trucking pollution and all sorts of other costs involving transportation, refrigeration, spoilage,etc. Another advantage is that of economics. Buying from smaller farmers gives the little guy a chance to succeed against Big Agra, one of the biggest evils of our time.
A few years back, Ohio State University researchers reported: “.. the average supermarket shopper is willing to pay a premium price for locally produced foods, providing some farmers an attractive option to enter a niche market that could boost their revenues. [S]hoppers at farm markets are willing to pay almost twice as much extra as retail grocery shoppers for the same locally produced foods. Both kinds of shoppers…will pay more for guaranteed fresh produce and tend to favor buying food produced by small farms over what they perceive as corporate operations, according to the study.”
The study to which the researchers are referring was published in the May 2008 edition of American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Sounds Great. So what could be bad about the locally grown idea?
Locally grown seems to imply something about food quality. Think again.
Growing numbers of people are starting to wake up to the fact that most foods are poisoned. They contain alarming amounts of pesticides, steroids, antibiotics, herbicides, chlorine, fluoride and artificial ingredients from sweeteners to preservatives.
More and more people want cleaner sources of food, without these poisons.
The problem is that the term “locally grown” is being used interchangeably with the idea of healthfulness. But they aren’t necessarily. Buyer beware.
Are we just trading one evil for another?
While growing locally can lessen the impact of fuel usage and offer fresher food, what about local air, land and water quality? Locally grown produce that is drenched with toxic pesticides and herbicides affects the local groundwater, air quality and soil health.
Would you spray your backyard tomatoes with Raid?
You can’t get more “local” than your own backyard, right? But there’s nothing stopping you from going into your little garden with a can of Raid, Black Flagg, Roundup or other poisonous substance and spraying the hell out of your fruits and vegetables. By definition they would still be “local.”
Similarly, any local farmer can bombard his yield with poisons. This is more the norm than the exception, unless your local farmer also happens to have a conscience about what he’s doing to our planet and to the people who eat what he has to offer.
Thus, locally grown food should NEVER be compared with organic, clean, biodynamic and/or wildcrafted food. That is, unless the locally grown produce is toxin-free.
We have to compare apples with apples. Locally grown is only as good as the farmer who chooses not to poison you.