Back in July of 2009, a major study comparing the nutritional value of organic food to conventional food was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study conclusion was that organic food, was “no healthier” than ordinary food. They also decided there were "no significant differences in nutrient content,” and "there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organic over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority."
Surprised? Don’t be. The real differences and reasons for eating organic are not wholly based on nutrition. You should actually consider the "who, what and where from" when selecting your food.
Sure, we instinctively know that organically grown food is better than conventionally grown, if only because it is free of potentially harmful chemical residue. But, for the sake of argument, lets accept the study findings at face value. The fact that produce or meat is organic doesn’t change the basic make-up of a food item. A rib eye steak, organic or not, is still beef and broccoli, despite the use of artificial pesticides or fertilizers, is still broccoli. The nutritional value of the food item is still inherent regardless of how it is grown.
The real issue is large scale or corporate farming.
The “Big Boys” have figured out that they can command a premium price for the organic label and now, most of the major corporate producers have either created or acquired an organic division. Up until the last fifteen or so years, organic produce and beef was a small niche market deemed worthy only to "health nuts" and "hippies". Anyone who wanted organic had to buy at specialty health food stores or visit a farmers market that featured locally grown organic crops and commodities. Now, because of growing public awareness that conventionally produced food may have certain health risks, everyone from Walmart to the large regional grocery chains carry organic food. Furthermore, these large retailers don’t get their organics from small, local farmers who take great pride in providing healthy and delicious tasting food. Instead, they buy from large industrial organic farms, many of which are owned by the same "name brands" that deliver the conventionally produced foods . These large scale organic farms aren’t concerned with growing the richest, best tasting products. What they want are products that meet organic certification, can be grown on a large scale, and survive mechanical harvesting. Because of the lead time required for shipping, organically produced foods (just as conventionally produced items) must be harvested before it is truly ripe, which causes it to decline in nutritional value.
Finally, and most importantly, is what society and civilization are losing because of the advent of large corporate farms…..the family farm. It’s a rich part of the American heritage and it is being pushed to the brink of extinction by corporate farm entities and big box food retailers. Local farms are operated by people dedicated to providing high quality foods. They are stewards of the land, that squeeze out a significant part of their income from local markets or direct sales. They pick the crop when it is ripe, ready to eat, and at its nutritional peak).
When you buy local, you are helping to keep a part of history alive while also rewarding a true craftsman for his or her work.