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Why Buying Local Needs to Include Buying Organic

  • Whatever happened to organic?
    The limits of consumption-based food movements
    By Stephanie Paige Ogburn
    Grist Magazine, August 11, 2008
    Straight to the Source

In "Dispatches from the Fields," Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America's agro-industrial landscape.

A few years ago at farmers markets here and around the country, most customers would ask a farmer how she grew her vegetables and herbs. Eaters were concerned about organic growing habits and pesticide use on farms, and inquired about the methods used to grow the produce they were purchasing.

Nowadays at market, almost no one asks if Dragonfly Farms is certified organic. (We're not, but are pursuing Certified Naturally Grown status.) They don't even ask if we use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.

Consumer priorities, and the questions buyers ask, have shifted. Now the main farm-production question I hear is related to place: "Where is your farm?"

Customers used to worry about how food was produced; now they worry about where it is from. This switch is both interesting and somewhat troubling. It's interesting in part because it shows how the power of one captivating idea -- local -- can quickly eclipse the power of another -- organic...