Local or Organic?
Article based on a BBC News Online article dated Wednesday, 2 March, 2005.
"How local is the food I buy?" "Does organic always mean better for me and the environment?"
There has been much talk in the press of late about the topics of local food and organic food, often in a context of local-v-organic. There are of course no easy answers, though local, organic food is clearly the best of both worlds.
Buying UK produce is much better for the environment than from abroad, buying local is even better. "The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat, as our actions affect farms, landscapes and food businesses," said co-author Professor Jules Pretty, from the University of Essex. "Food miles are more significant than we previously thought, and much now needs to be done to encourage local production and consumption of food," she added
Maurice Hopper, from Exeter states: “I have always thought that the definition of organic should include food miles. There is not a lot of point in eating good food if there is a greater impact on the planet by getting it on your plate. We need a more holistic view of all the issues in food quality and production/transport.”
It has been calculated that if all food were sourced from within 12 miles of where it is consumed, the reduction in environmental and congestion costs would result in a saving of £2.1bn each year.
Organic farming also helps in this saving to the environment. If all farms in the UK were to become organic, there would a reduction in costs, such as clean up following pollution, of £1.1bn a year. The South West has more than 1,000 organic producers and accounts for 25 per cent of England's certified organic enterprises and 40 per cent of its organic land area. Though the demand in this country for organic produce is high, much of this is still sadly met by imports; even in the South West.
Unfortunately it is not always easy to buy local food from your local supermarket and even when you can find produce that is local, you cannot be sure that in the journey from farm to shelf it has not gone via a ‘central’ depot hundreds of miles from your local supermarket.
Here in Devon we are blessed to have a wealth of excellent local producers and at a recent national event, half of the category winners were from the south west with Burt’s and Lyme Bay Winery receiving top prizes. Jonty White, of Burt’s Chips, commented: “The region’s overall success is a great accolade too – we probably have more food and drink producers offering a wider diversity of products here than any other region in the UK, and we are working toward a vision of being the country’s leading food and drink region.”
"Buy local". We have so many good reasons to do so.
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Copyright The Local Food Company, July 2006