The organic & biodynamic movement is in full swing across the country; it was just gaining speed in the north of Michigan when I left. Here in Eugene it permeates much of the food and wine scene; should the pair of buzz words become a trio with the addition of the word local, so much the better.
Local, organic & biodynamic produce abounds much of the year, save the dead of winter when they truck things up from southern California--oddly to many this still counts as local even though it is shipped overland almost 900 miles. I have long agreed with buying local foods, if they're biodynamic, so much the better; money spent stays in the community and good farming practices benefit both the earth and the people, flora & fauna who call it home. Organic though, is a bit of a pox for me: I am not generally willing to pay the additional price for an organic (and usually much smaller) Fuji apple than it's local, non-organic (and usually much more robust) counterpart. I realize it costs more to grow the organic Fuji and that the increased cost will be passed on to the consumer, but I'm often not willing to pay it; if the apples were identical in size, perhaps, but until that happens, no. I'm also not willing to buy the organic Fuji bearing a New Zealand's Best sticker, when it's non-organic twin with a Washington stamp is sitting just beside; that some company thought I'd be willing to hand over extra cash for a Fuji that was flown 13k miles just to fill a gap in organic produce is beyond me--most organic eaters that I know show great concern for the environment, I wonder how they swallow the added cost of this organic gem and the hefty carbon footprint that was produced ensuring said fruit reached their shores in perfect form?
It's not that I won't buy organic, I certainly will when I am presented with organic heirloom tomatoes at the Saturday market, just bletted medlars offered up at the holiday fair or hazy blueberry honey from my housemate's beekeeping friend: I will readily buy these items and savor the flavor and story that accompanies them. At the supermarket though, where non-organic and organic co-mingle, I save my extra pennies, nickels and quarters for the Saturday market. It makes sense to me to put my money where I know it will do the most.
Buying local food is certainly a start to keeping money in the community, but buying local food directly from the co-op, person or collective producing it, seems to make even better sense to me. Exercising this option I garner knowledge about the food and the process behind how and why it is grown; I am able to ask questions directly to the person that was out in the field harvesting the beets that I will enjoy later in the evening or pull suggestions and wisdom from the farmer who grows tomatoes successfully down the road even as my own refuse to flower or fruit. It's not enough to simply buy local food though, there is a smithy in my community, a plethora of craftsmen who reclaim and repurpose cast off items, vineyards and breweries galore, designers and leathersmiths and more. Buying from these individuals helps to keep money and skill in the community as well. I'm not saying that big box stores and malls are anathema, they certainly have their place as well; I am saying that it often behooves us to look around a bit before we commit to the packaging and lowest price guarantees that abound...often a comparable item can be found at a similar price just down the road, the fact that it comes from my neighbor's daughters' shop is an added bonus.