What’s the Difference Between Local and Organic Produce
A growing number of people are opting for organic and local produce in Tacoma, as well as in cities across the nation. In fact, almost 55 million Americans shopped for organic food in the spring of 2017.
The benefits range beyond the health of the consumer. Buying organic and local produce benefits the farmers, the regional economy and the ecosystems where that produce is grown.
While many of the benefits are similar, it’s important to know the difference between organic and local produce when shopping.
Read on to discover the difference between organic and local produce in Tacoma.
What is Organic Produce?
Produce labeled “Organic” must be certified by the USDA to ensure that it’s free of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and GMO’s (genetically modified organisms).
Farmers employ a number of age old methods, when farming organically.
Instead of using chemicals to control weeds, farmers till and mulch the soil, handpick weeds and rotate crops from season to season.
Rather than using synthetic fertilizers, farmers use natural products and methods like manure, compost, mulching and crop rotation. Many of these methods have been used for thousands of years to ensure a bountiful crop year after year.
When the organic label is used on meat products, know that the livestock was allowed access to a natural outdoor environment year-round. Organic livestock is raised on 100 percent organic feed, and are not prescribed antibiotics or growth hormones.
Instead of using antibiotics and growth hormones on livestock, better care is taken in how the animals are cared for. Rotational grazing, access to natural environments, and organic feed helps to keep the animals health in line.
Organic is Not Local
Just because food may carry an organic label doesn’t mean it’s from your neighborhood, region or even your nation. Take Mexico for instance, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of our vegetable imports each year. There are over 1600 USDA-certified organic operations in Mexico that are inspected by two dozen USDA accredited certifiers.
Even if it’s not from Mexico, there is a good chance your local produce is from another state or region. It’s probably a good clue if you purchase and organic banana in the Pacific Northwest that it’s not grown locally.
What is Local Produce?
The term local, when applied to produce, is somewhat vague. It doesn’t necessarily mean the fruits or vegetables originated in your zip code. While there are some efforts like the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project thatto certify food as being local to a certain area, there is no actual definition of the term local when applied to food. In many cases food may come from as far as 400 miles away.
To put that in perspective, if you live near Tacoma, Washington, your local produce could originate as far away as Medford, Oregon. While an interesting fact, this does not negate the benefits of purchasing and consuming local produce.
Food not labeled local could come from any number of places including Mexico. Non-local food is picked well before it turns ripe. While this allows it to store and travel well, it does not allow the produce to reach its full potential in nutritional value.
In contrast, your local produce in Tacoma is more likely to be picked closer to ripeness and sold quicker. This means the produce is fresher and more nutritious.
This is especially true for produce that’s been sold in farmer’s markets and produce stands, such as the South Sound’s own Tacoma Boys H&L Produce. By purchasing local produce at Tacoma Boys locations, your fruits and vegetables will be fresh and of high quality.
Benefits of Buying Organic and Local Produce in Tacoma
The benefits of buying organic reach far beyond your plate and personal health. You are supporting farmers who choose to work free from harmful chemicals. You are supporting the ecosystems of those farms and the well being of that livestock. Moreover, you are supporting a progression in the farming industry, that is ultimately giving producers and customers more choice in the food they grow and eat.
Even though buying local doesn’t necessarily mean you are purchasing from your neighbor down the street, it does mean that you are more likely to be supporting your local and regional economy. From the farmers to the drivers, to the industries that support those individuals, your money is well invested in your regional economy.
Local produce is more nutritious for the mere fact that it’s allowed to ripen more than non-local produce. Buying organic ensure that no chemical fertilizers or synthetic pesticides were used in its farming. It also ensures that it’s free from genetically modified organisms. Health benefits of organic foods include no synthetic hormones and more healthy fats.
Finding Local Produce in Tacoma
The best place to find local produce in Tacoma is at a Farmer’s market or your local Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce.
At Tacoma Boys, we pride ourselves in providing the South Sound with organic and local produce, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you don’t live in the South Sound, and can’t find a farmer’s market or produce stand in your community, you may still be able to find some organic options at your local grocery store.
Do you like what you read? If so, stop in at one of our 3 South Sound Locations to experience delicious, local produce today! Stick around and explore our website, or find and follow us on Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest.