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Old 04-19-2008, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Shallow alcove hidden from the telescreen
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Just curious on some thoughts here. Now that the big centralized profit players in the economy (i.e. Walmart, Monsanto, et. al.) have caught on to the "green" and "organic" movements -- and are subsequently lobbying Congress to water down what those terms mean -- does buying "green" and "organic" products warrant more scrutiny? Moreover, instead of making purchasing decisions based on "green" and "organic" should we perhaps be looking more at buying local?

Sidebar: Walmart is actively tackling "local-washing" head on by opening retail stores tailored to the local flavor. It's odd, because while Walmart does that, they suck the life-blood right out of the local economy.

Interested in thoughts on the matter. What's more important, "green" and "organic," or local?
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Old 04-19-2008, 02:10 PM
 
Location: a primitive state
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I think 'green' has become an overused term and lacks a clear definition or strong criteria to back it up. Pretty much anything can be considered green if you angle your argument the right way. Green, in short, is a marketing term.

The term "organic" on the other hand, as it pertains to food, is legally defined by the USDA and is subject to strict regulations.

Local is another term that is relatively vague and can pertain to anything that was produced up to 500 miles away, depending on who you ask and what you're doing. 500 miles or less usually applies to locally produced building materials rather than vegetable produce.

For me, local produce ideally should be grown near enough that it can be delivered within an hour or less to its destination on the day it was picked or at least no earlier than the evening before. And I'd rather buy very fresh conventionally grown local produce over wilted and old organic.

Last edited by ellie; 04-19-2008 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 04-19-2008, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,390 posts, read 37,702,114 times
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As ellie says, green has no "real" definition, whereas organic does. This makes "greenwashing" relatively easy to do. Eating locally usually means things like farmer's markets (though even there you want to ask where the produce was grown, because some farmer's markets allow selling of produce that wasn't grown by the seller and may have been trucked in and be in essence the same stuff you get at the grocery store). Some markets do have rules against this practice; it's good to check. CSA's are another good way to eat locally. Plus, of course, having your own vegetable garden if possible - that's REALLY local.

There are some things that we're just not going to be able to get locally, though, that I'm not willing to give up entirely (chocolate springing inevitably and irresistibly to mind as a prime example ). But it's possible to eat locally primarily, and well, without a lot of pain.
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Old 04-19-2008, 09:19 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,871 posts, read 15,485,360 times
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I choose local because I want the freshness and the particular "fit" of the local vibrations. I'm in western Washington, a lush agricultural area full of local produce, organic meats and fowl, fruits, seafoods, honey, dried spices, dairy, cheeses ---- AARRRRGGGHH I've made myself so hungry!!!!!!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by cre8 View Post
... Walmart ... they suck the life-blood right out of the local economy.
Hear! Hear! They also suck the life-blood out of the near-slave laborers working for their suppliers in China, India, Indonesia, etc. etc.
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Old 04-19-2008, 09:38 PM
 
Location: Shallow alcove hidden from the telescreen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellie View Post
The term "organic" on the other hand, as it pertains to food, is legally defined by the USDA and is subject to strict regulations.
Yes, but isn't it true that the USDA regulations governing what is and isn't organic are under heavy pressure from the ag industry to have broader meaning? For example, the dairy industry can now legally put the label "organic" on milk from cows that were fed antibiotics, hormones, genetically engineered feed and feed produced with toxic pesticides. Depending on how wide-spread this practice has become, I think it puts the term "organic" anything under suspicion.

USDA Criticized for Helping 'Industrialize' Organic Farming
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Old 04-20-2008, 05:09 AM
 
Location: Maine
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I'll take local over "organic" any day. Organic doesn't mean much these days unless you're involved in marketing. There isn't any testing involved in organic certification. When the inspector leaves, IF he or she even goes to the farm during the certification process, the farmer can dump anything he or she wants to on the land and crops and easily get away with it. If you buy your food locally from a farmer who is open about her growing practices you can at least know what you're eating. My customers are welcome here any time. I might not be able to stop working to talk with them but they're welcome to drop in and see what we're doing and how we're doing it.
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Old 04-20-2008, 06:24 AM
 
Location: a primitive state
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cre8 View Post
Yes, but isn't it true that the USDA regulations governing what is and isn't organic are under heavy pressure from the ag industry to have broader meaning? For example, the dairy industry can now legally put the label "organic" on milk from cows that were fed antibiotics, hormones, genetically engineered feed and feed produced with toxic pesticides. Depending on how wide-spread this practice has become, I think it puts the term "organic" anything under suspicion.

USDA Criticized for Helping 'Industrialize' Organic Farming
It wouldn't surprise me if some industrial scale farmers and the outlets who sell their products are trying to game the system. But I am still not so paranoid as to entirely dismiss the principles behind organic farming because of it.

Last edited by ellie; 04-20-2008 at 06:55 AM..
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Old 04-20-2008, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,390 posts, read 37,702,114 times
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That link is to a press release website and is a press release from the Cornucopia Institute. A quick google turns up one potential conflict of interest on the part of one of the founders of that organization, which doesn't necessarily mean that what they're saying isn't true, but does mean that further research is necessary. Unfortunately, greenwashing is only one of the problems with "green" becoming popular and mainstream; it can be used as a tool in business wars, as well. That means that it's not as easy as reading a press release, but digging further is required.
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Old 04-20-2008, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Journey's End
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Ellie, you'd make a good contributor to the green dictionary.

In addition to the advantage of organic, locally grown products for their taste and their direct support of our communities, it has been widely reported that several contaminants and microbes are now evident in vegetables being imported from LA/SA--our borders--that can and will contribute to poor health, and often symptoms that go undetected--parasitic diseases that lodge in the intestines.

I'm for locally purchased, fresh food as much as possible whether it is called green, organic or traditional. Now, if only we could support our local farmers and growners, we'd all be richer by far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ellie View Post
I think 'green' has become an overused term and lacks a clear definition or strong criteria to back it up. Pretty much anything can be considered green if you angle your argument the right way. Green, in short, is a marketing term.

The term "organic" on the other hand, as it pertains to food, is legally defined by the USDA and is subject to strict regulations.

Local is another term that is relatively vague and can pertain to anything that was produced up to 500 miles away, depending on who you ask and what you're doing. 500 miles or less usually applies to locally produced building materials rather than vegetable produce.

For me, local produce ideally should be grown near enough that it can be delivered within an hour or less to its destination on the day it was picked or at least no earlier than the evening before. And I'd rather buy very fresh conventionally grown local produce over wilted and old organic.
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Old 04-20-2008, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Shallow alcove hidden from the telescreen
2,819 posts, read 9,909,514 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellie View Post
It wouldn't surprise me if some industrial scale farmers and the outlets who sell their products are trying to game the system. But I am still not so paranoid as to entirely dismiss the principles behind organic farming because of it.
I tend to agree. Given a choice between organic and non-organic, I'll buy organic most of the time, even if it costs a few cents more. But lately I've been getting suspicious given some of the things I've read regarding the "industrialization" of organic farming. I've also been wondering how much price gouging is going on. If big producers and retailers have figured out that "organic" now appeals to a seizable segment of the population, what's to stop them from putting a "perceived added value" on organic products and inflating the price by a dime or a quarter? Organic bananas are 30 more per pound than non-organic at one store near me. Since the big guys are now peddling organic, there is a small part of me that feels I've been profiled by the marketing team and am being duped when paying more for organic.
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