Buy local or buy organic, but don’t buy the hype

A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the fallacies of choosing to always buy local. Sometimes local producers are worth the price, sometimes not.

Now comes a related study from Stanford University that says organic foods, such as meat, dairy and produce, aren’t any better for you than foods grown through traditional means.

But wait, you say. Doesn’t it make sense anyway to buy from local organic farms because they’re better for the environment?

Not necessarily. A study from Oxford University in England received less attention in the United States than the one from Stanford, but it shows there aren’t really any environmental benefits to speak of, either.

In fact, farms producing environmental milk, pork and cereals created more greenhouse gas emissions per unit compared to traditional farming methods. Organic olives and beef generated lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit, said a report from Environmental News Network. So it’s sixes.

Farmers used less energy to produce food organically, but they needed more land than traditional farmers.

In other words, go ahead and spend about a third more to buy organic food if you choose. Maybe you think it tastes better and the extra cost is worth it to you. But you won’t be buying any more nutrition or saving the planet. You will be helping what has become a $31.4 billion industry, however.

Despite this news spreading manure all over organic food, one bit of information does underscore health concerns and deserves more attention from the federal government. The Stanford study did find significant differences in antibiotic-resistant germs in traditionally grown animals meant for human consumption.

Too many farmers feed animals antibiotics to fatten them up, producing more and cheaper meat. But if you get a food-borne illness from the meat of one of these animals, your doctor will have a heck of time finding medicine to treat you.

Government has a legitimate roll to play in protecting the health and well being of the population. While the Associated Press story said the feds have begun steps to curb this practice, I would recommend something aggressive and proactive.

Categories: Utah issues

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.


  1. Vanessa

    I don;t know who these people are that ever said that organic is more nutritious than food grown with pesticides. If you’re smart you know that isn’t true. I eat organic because (1) it doesn’t destroy the soil or pollute the air we breathe (2) I don’t like eating chemicals (3) pesticides kill the birds and the bees and (3) I like local organic because IT TASTES BETTER. Nuff said.

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