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Organic or Local Food


Looking at the sentence “Bryn Mawr College Dining Services is committed to providing the most environmentally friendly dining program possible and one that supports the BMC Community”, I begin to wonder what if the two goals cannot be achieved at the same time and we have to choose one, either to be environment-friendly or community-supportive. Though the Bryn Mawr Dining Services try to disregard this dilemma and are confident that they can achieve both goals at the same time, we, sometimes, still have to make a choice. The choice we make actually reflects the most essential value of sustainability. If I were the person who would make the choice, I would undoubtedly choose local food instead of organic food based on several reasons below.

 Considering the cost and gain, organic food does not seem to be a good deal. In Erdman Dining Hall, the Earthbound Farm organic food posters are hanged on the wall facing salad bar, which depict various kinds of organic vegetables and fruits with nutrition facts, including some that I have never seen in our dining halls. By looking at these posters, people are easily convinced that organic food is much healthier and nutritive than conventional food. However, the fact we face is that organic food is more expensive, typically costs 10% to 40% more than its conventional counterpart (Organic food, July 2009, <>). We have to make the choice based on the evaluation that whether the health and nutrition benefits worth the extremely high prices. My conclusion is that it does not worth the price according to some recent scientific research that shows organic food has no big difference from traditional food.(Organic food more expensive but no healthier than conventional food, July 29, 2009, Under the recession circumstance, the action of paying more to purchase organic food seems even unnecessary. Fortunately, we have an alternative option-local food. At first, I was confused about the definitions of the two terms, thinking that local food must be organic. Later, I find out that in most cases, local food is not necessarily organic, at least is not certified as “organic”. However, people view the term “organic” including the advantage of “locally-grown”. Thus, the generically “organic food” produced by large business corporations seems not superior to local food grown not “organically”.

Regarding the taste, local food wins again. It happens that there are two apples on my table I took from Erdman Dining Hall, one is labeled as “organic” produced in California, and the other was from the basket, which had a sign on it-local farmers’ products. From their appearances, it is easy to distinguish which is which because the local one is bigger and riper, and the “organic” one is more brilliant and thus artificially charming. At first glance, I may choose the “organic” apple because of its appearance. However, I regret my choice after biting each of them. The local apple trumps. It tastes more decent and natural. In fact, it is not hard to come to the conclusion that local food is better by the measure of taste. Locally food grown food is consumed immediately after harvest and eliminates the need for chemical preservatives. Thus, the freshness and ripeness of the locally grown food are guaranteed. 

 Sustainability, according to wikipedia, also includes the well being of human beings and the harmonious development of community.  The most important reason that I am in favor of local food is that it supports the community in a most efficient way. With the development of global economy, producers and consumers are separated through a chain of manufactures, shippers and retailers. The meatballs we eat in the dining halls might be produced in China and shipper all the way across the Pacific Ocean in larger freezers before arriving at our tables. Having no clue about its production process, we should be worried about the inappropriate usage of antibiotics, unfair treatments towards animals and poor care of environment. Conversely, the local food system provides people the opportunity to know the entire producing route of the food they consume. It also supports the sustainability of a community because it ensures that the money goes directly into the pockets of the people who need it most, the local farmers. Specifically, buying food from nearby farmers also promotes the college’s relationship with the local community.

Supporting local food does not equal to resisting globalization and industrialization. Rather, it is more about contributing to the sustainability of our community. When I see the line that “we are working to increase the proportion of local foods available in the Dining Halls”, I feel Bryn Mawr Dining Services have made a right decision.