Organic vs. Local

Student researchers in a hoop house at Genesis Growers. This rural farm is among the mix of farms participating in the study.*

What's better for the earth: eating locally or eating organically? A professor from the University of Chicago, Pamela Martin, is leading a year-long course study to find out. (She previously conducted a study comparing food choices to car choices on environmental impact; they tied.)

It is a complicated question, with a range of factors to include, such as farm size, crop diversity and farm 'inputs' (fuel, seeds, fertilizer, pesticide...) But preliminary findings suggest local wins out.

*Jessica Graves photo


  1. Anonymous8:43 AM

    Why not both?

  2. While this study may be insightful, it risks sending the message that we don't need to worry about organic, because local is more important. It may also diminish the incentive for small local farmers to transition to organic.
    As a small organic farmer and specialty foods creator, I will not give up organic to go local in all cases. Local may be better in some cases with regards to carbon footprint, but there's no question that organic is better for health. I will always reward local organic farmers first. If we do our business with them, their success will inspire others to do the same. Let's face it, agricultural chemicals are toxic regardless of the food miles traveled.