Eat locally. Buy organic. Support sustainable agriculture. Some of us hear these terms all the time. It used to be ‘buy organic’, end of story. Now, we are having conversations about supporting local farmers (even if they are not growing organic) and seeking farms that use sustainable growing practices (organic or not). It is not only about how our food is grown, but where and who is growing our food.
While a USDA certified organic sticker assures harmful chemicals were not used to grow your fruit or vegetable, it does not address farm size, shipping distances, fair prices for farmers, or local economies.
As consumers, it is hard to know the right answer, since most of us are so distanced from the way our food is produced. Should we avoid pesticides at all costs or support local farmers even if they use pesticides? Should we reduce the food shipment miles, or buy food produced in an ecologically sound manner regardless of where it’s grown?
Truly, when it comes to doing the right thing, what really matters is thinking about the choices – being aware of our options, staying informed about the food we buy, and being conscious of our role as consumers. We are the most powerful agent of change in our local food system. Small and mid-size farmers in Minnesota won’t be able to stay in business unless they find a market, and there isn’t market without the consumer.
Demand the type of food you wish to eat, think about taking on a local or sustainable food challenge, and read on to find out more about these food issues and more.