Buy local, buy organic: healthier options for yourself and the environment

by Beacon Staff • April 11, 2007

Pizza, Twix bars, potato chips and cheeseburgers are a few of the easiest options on campus. And if you really are what you eat, then you're not going to like thinking about the hormones and steroids that brought you that Whopper or the pesticides that could still be lingering in your fruit salad.,Your everyday diet may not consist of the healthiest choices while running to the C-Store or City Place in between classes.

Pizza, Twix bars, potato chips and cheeseburgers are a few of the easiest options on campus. And if you really are what you eat, then you're not going to like thinking about the hormones and steroids that brought you that Whopper or the pesticides that could still be lingering in your fruit salad. Fortunately, there is an easy-and eco-friendly-way to save yourself from the potential hazards these substances can pose: eat organic.

When fruits and vegetables are certified organic, it means they were grown without the use of any pesticides or other chemicals. Meat products are considered organic when the animals were not treated with any antibiotics or hormones to increase their size.

"When you eat organic, you eat natural, and you eat healthy," said Lauren Robbins, president of Earth Emerson and a junior writing, literature, and publishing major.

Robbins emphasizes eating mass-produced fruits and veggies means you're probably ingesting more harmful chemicals and pesticides than you realize. And those toxins don't just end up in your food, continuing a cycle of dangerous ingredients.

"They end up in our drinking water, they end up in ponds and lakes and ultimately the ocean, killing fish, poisoning all sorts of plants and animals which we then eat and ingest again," Robbins said.

Not only are these chemicals harmful to you, but they can cause serious trouble in the environment as well. Robbins said industrial commercial farms contribute to the production of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

Their overgrazing of land and contribution to deforestation are also blamed for adding to the same problem.

"Commercial farming is horrible for the environment, and yourself, which I can't reiterate enough," Robbins said. To improve your health and the planet, she recommends a vegan or vegetarian diet. "As a vegan myself, I don't encourage people to eat meat at all for a variety of reasons," she said.

"[A]s an environmentalist, and as a person who cares about people, I cannot condone eating any kind of meat that isn't organic, period. Unfortunately, that means no meat at fast-food joints, no meat in the dining hall, no meat pretty much anywhere except grocery stores that carry organic options."

These options can be found at places like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's, both of which have locations all over the city.

Not only should you buy organic, but buying local is also an easy way to make a difference. When you purchase locally grown products, you cut down on energy and other resources that would have otherwise been spent on shipping the products here from wherever they're grown.

"Buying local is the ultimate enviro-saver," Robbins said. "The more you help, the bigger the impact is, but always remember that any help is better than no help at all."

For a listing of local farmers' markets, log onto massfarmersmarkets.com.