Monday, January 2, 2012

Not All Organic Farms are Created Equal

We generally think of organic and sustainable as going hand in hand, but in the produce department this isn't always the case.  The New York Times featured a front page article on the 30th questioning the sustainability of many organic produce farms, focusing mainly on those farms in Baja, Mexico that are technically organic, but don't often match up with what we would typically consider environmental sustainability.  Organic tomato farms on the Baja Peninsula have depleted the water table in the area to the point where local subsistence farmers can't grow food because their wells are dry.  Additionally, tomatoes produced in this region overwhelmingly serve the United States market, meaning that they are shipped long distances at fossil fuel costs rivaling those of conventional farms.

How should we as consumers respond to this?  Buy local!  If you live in a cold winter climate, reduce your intake of warm-weather produce in an effort to eat more sustainably.  If the northern United States didn't have such a high demand for tomatoes all winter, we wouldn't be so reliant on imports.  Eating local winter food can be just as delicious and satisfying as eating imported hot-weather foods, and is also better for the environment and your local economy.

If you want to eat local this winter but aren't sure how to get started, check out our Winter Food Project webpage for recipes, winter CSA programs, and winter farmers markets in Connecticut.

Watch the New York Times video about sustainability here.

Happy New Year!

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