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Ingredients: Organic, Local, Ethical How do you shop?

What is most important to you when buying ingredients?

Freshness? Price?
Do You shop locally?
Do you buy Organic?
Do you buy fair trade?
Do you know your own growers / producers?
Does it matter to you that the fruit you buy comes from across the globe?
Carbon + travel... do you consider these things when buying?

if so what items does it matter for?
what percentage of what you buy is based on these consideration?

I find myself often debating between conventional apples from 200 km away, or organic ones from Australian.... I mean what is better for me? what is better for the environment? What tastes better? I have a pretty strict buying guideline I adhere to ... but what about everyone else, is shopping a huge ethical debate for you too?

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    1. I try to buy the best quality food at the best price possible.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Funwithfood

        right but how do you define quality?

        1. re: CookieGal

          As an avid gardener, it's fairly easy to recognize quality produce. I purchase meats and seafood from reputable vendors (usually found via word-of-mouth, or by referrals found here on CH).

      2. You ask a range of questions and then ask which is most important. I find that impossible to answer as I base my decision on a balance of all of them.

        For example, I do buy organic but not if that means shipping it halfway across the world when non-organic produce grown more locally is available. Some items are always imports because we don't have the climate to grow them - here I always try to buy organic or fairtrade.

        Most of time, I work to a basis of buying seasonally available produce or stuff that comes through historical trade routes. And then there's the produce I boycott because of country of origin - my politics to those issues are as important to me as my politics towards the environment.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Harters

          I am pretty much with you Harters. I buy organic, local meat. It is expensive but I buy meat only rarely. When I buy produce local trumps organic but most of the local produce is pesticide free, just not certified. I try to buy fair trade chocolate and coffee.Doing this not only is buying by my conscience but I also think that the quality is better. That being said I do buy orange juice at the supermarket - I just can't afford organic.

        2. I couldn't possibly care less about organic food. And I don't give a toss about health foods in general. Food is one of life's richest pleasures for me, not something to fear and cringe before.

          About the only concessions I make to the health craze and other food trends are oat meal, orange juice, 2% milk, and free range eggs. If I were a wealthier man, I'd probably also buy free range meat.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            Food is indeed one of life's great pleasures, and plenty of people who prefer organic food do not "fear and cringe before" it. They simply prefer food without the added petrochemicals. Also, I find that in many instances organic produce tastes better. Often, produce designed for large monoculture is bred for practical qualities rather than taste.

            1. re: visciole

              Hmmm. The only difference I've noticed between organic and non-organic is the price. And as for the petrochemicals, I'd rather eat them than additional bugs.

              But to each his own.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                It's not just the price; it's the avoidance of toxic chemicals in your body and in soil, and water runoff. It's to prevent increasingly resistant superbug infectious diseases caused by antibiotic resistance. 80% of antibiotics manufactured in the U.S. are dumped into feedlots and onto produce.

                1. re: mcf

                  The avoidance of toxic chemicals is not worth the price to me. I drink whisky and I smoke cigars; avoiding trace toxicity in food products would be tantamount to ordering a Diet Coke at a pizza buffet.

                  I would also add that the abundance produced by non-organic factory farming methods prevents global famine on an epic scale. I think this form of farming does far more good than harm.

                2. re: Perilagu Khan

                  Bananas are a good item to use to taste the difference between organic and non-organic. The flavor is dramatically different and the organic lacks the metallic after taste that conventional often has.

              2. re: Perilagu Khan

                I'm with you Perilagu Khan, but don't say it out loud...some are easily offended! :)

                1. re: Funwithfood

                  I'm not offended.... I just don't agree! I guess if you shop at places like Whole Paycheck there isn't much difference except price, but I don't. Lucky for me I am able to shop at other places, like farms. Or I grow my own.

                  I don't think pesticides are employed to keep us from eating bugs; they're employed to keep the bugs from eating the produce. I grew up in the country, eating stuff off trees and from the garden, and the only bugs we worried about were the ones eating the plants.

                  But I do agree with you when it comes to packaged foods. There doesn't seem to be a taste difference there.

              3. I buy what looks good to me. I would buy more local stuff if I were in another area. South Florida seems like a wasteland for fresh food.

                1. This is an interesting subject and a complex one as well. There are a few things I consider when shopping for food, in order of priority: quality of the produce, health, price and origin. I try to combine these factors for most of the produce/items that I buy, although it is not always possible and it is necessary to compromise sometimes. I do believe that buying organic when possible and accessible makes a difference, health-wise and taste-wise.
                  It also contributes towards expanding the organic market, increasing production and lowering prices.
                  To me, eating healthily is not a chore but a pleasure. I enjoy the odd unhealthy treat insofar as it is an occasional occurrence. I spent my teenage years and early twenties eating and feeling rubbish so I can't stand putting junk in my mouth any more. I have developed some sort of defense mechanism against it or maybe a psychological revulsion.
                  In terms of origin, I try to support local farmers with meat and some fruit and veg but I also make a point of buying Fairtrade imported stuff (such as coffee from Africa and Latin America, chocolate, spices, grains and other ethnic foods) not only because, in many cases, I find the quality far superior to the local varieties but, more importantly, because I am only too aware (as a South American myself) of how essential the revenue from exports is to the local economies and how dependent people's livelihoods are on them.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Paula76

                    Wow I love hearing how passionate some of you are about your purchasing of local and organic foods. I think it is really important for people to educate them selvess on the facts about agribusiness and industrialized food production, so that they can make safe choices for their families and the environment.

                  2. It doesn't apply to everything, but I like to buy local, seasonal, ,free range and organic, in that order. I try to avoid stuff that's been flown halfway round the world, but make an exception for bananas and coffee, in which case I like to buy fairtrade. I do like a bargain, but price is not always my first consideration, especially when it comes to chicken and pork.

                    1. I try to buy organic as much as I can. It has to be a good quality of course. I always buy organic chicken , ground beef, milk,veggies and some fruits like apple and others. If I could find good organic food localy I will buy it, but I don't mind the food of other countries either. Also if a produce package mentions, pesticides free I will buy it.