“Local” is the new “organic”

“Local” is the new “organic”-attachment0

The realization that food from distant places can lose nutritional value while requiring additional fossil fuels for transport — to say nothing of leaving local farmers out of the loop — is helping make “local” the new “organic” for many conscientious eaters.

Demand for local food is growing and has been named a leading trend for 2007 by Time magazine. As with organic before it, one of the big problems for consumers is “How do I know?”

Starting in 2006, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (headquartered right here in Asheville) has sponsored “Appalachian Grown,” a label displayed on food grown in WNC and the surrounding mountains by family farms. Since the program was launched, nearly 100 farms have become Appalachian Grown certified. On top of that, nearly 20 businesses, including local grocery stores, food cooperatives and restaurants, have agreed to participate in the Appalachian Grown program and use the logo to promote farm products from certified farms. 

ASAP encourages consumers to look for the logo at area grocers and restaurants. As the organizations’ bumper stickers proclaim, local food is “thousands of miles fresher.”

For further reading: Novelist and Appalachian resident Barbara Kingsolver discusses the Appalachian Grown program’s effect on farmers and shoppers in her community in the May/June issue of Mother Jones magazine.

And for more on ASAP, visit the organization’s Web site or contact Kate at 236-1282.

— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer

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About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

3 thoughts on ““Local” is the new “organic”

  1. hobart

    I don’t really push my shopping cart towards the organic section (to be honest, I eat a pile of junk food), but isn’t this article suggesting that the ASAP deal isn’t organic? I can’t seem to find a requirement for businesses applying for the label to be organic as well… (then again, I may be missing it).

    Might as well work towards the best of both worlds while you’re changing the supermarket scene… otherwise it seems like they’re just pushing a new brand instead of a new way to get connected to healty food. Minus the whole ‘using up petrol’ thing, of course. But I can’t see how eating local non-organic food would be any healthier than eating non-local organic food. And since the only people looking for the ‘local’ brand are probably the same ones who looked for the ‘organic’ label.. something doesn’t seem to compute.

    ::typeing while eating a bag of non-organic, god-only-knows-where-from potato chips::

  2. well, you raise some good issues.

    the thing is, these days, because of the USDA, the term “Orgainc” doesnt really mean very much anymore. around 1999 or 2000, the term ‘organic’ referred to standards set by individual states (with oregon tilth and california being the highest, most strict standards). then, a year or so ago, the USDA fianlly was able to pass a “national” standard for organic.
    the problem with this, is, as you can imagine, the standard is so watered down that certain unscrupulous companies are able to lable their food as ‘organic’, even when it does not live up to any real standards.
    so now you can go to ingles and buy “horizon” organic milk for 4 dollars a half gallon, even though they source the majority of their milk products from massive feed lots (not very ‘organic’) out west.

    SO, what this means is that, “buying Local” is shifting consumers awareness away from the dead term ‘orgainc’ that is now controlled by the same companies stocking your shelves with potatoe chips and sugar cerials to local producers.

    this helps in many ways. first, it directs consumer dollars back into the local community (nowadays, most of our produce, even the ‘organic’ stuff, comes from over 1500 miles away (that takes a lot of burnt petrol which isn’t healthy and therefore kinda negates the healthy from organic)).
    many folks would argue that it is healthier in the long run to eat a non-oraganic apple from WNC than to buy an organic apple from Washington state (or more likely, New Zealand) because when you are giving money to a local producer, you are able to have more of a positive effect on thier production methods in the long run.

    and when you keep money in your community, especially in the small farm communites who can keep us fed year-round(!) you are making you community much stronger.

    as opposed to buying lettuce and carrots from california, mexico, and new zealand. or “Organic” junk food produced by frito-lay.

    does that help?

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