My coop had the “Local Vs Organic” discussion, about if we preferred local produce or organic produce, when “both” is not an option. Reviews were somewhat mixed, but most fell into the “Local when available” option.
The first question centered around Onions. Our suppliers do not have local organic onions, so we were left with either buying Onions produced conventionally from Upstate New York, or Organic Onions from halfway across the county. Most people preferred the Local Onions.
Onions are the number 1 Vegetable on the “Clean 15″ list, meaning it has the fewest pesticides for any other vegetable. We also will have non organic local Winter Squash (which just missed the Clean 15 by 1 spot, and is still a fairly safe vegetable, pesticide wise.) Full List Here at EWG.org
However, we are also sourcing Organic Out of Area produce, such as Avocados and Citrus. This mostly stems from the thought that if we are going to have produce shipped from out of area, we do want it to be organic. We also will choose fair trade when it is available, as we have done with Bananas and with our Spices.
The other non organic local produce item that we source are Apples. Apples are very difficult to grow organically in the Northeast. Our Apple orchards practice “Integrated Pest Management (IPM)” which is targeting specific insects with specific pesticides, and using the minimum dose needed to keep the apples safe and growing. Apples are number one on the “Dirty Dozen,” which is why we source IPM apples to lower the risk.
In a perfect world, we would have all the produce we want produced locally, and we would only want what was available in season and perfect. The majority of our produce is Organic and Local, so the minor exceptions stand out. Still, they are lots cheaper than the local grocery stores!