Organic and Local Are Not Just For Farmer’s Markets Anymore

All the talk and advertisements and articles in my quasi-organic lifestyle have made me think a lot more about the concept of local. Living in the city, I spend a considerable about of time and energy buying local produce and products, but somewhere in between the shopping trips, I am beginning to wonder if I may have missed the broader concept of living locally. Yes, I go to local coffee shops and farmer’s markets, and I try to choose local merchants instead of big box stores. On rare occasions, I even attend local community events. But do I really live locally?

A friend of mine posted on her Facebook page that she was in a store and there were two jars requesting donations. One was for a little boy who needed cancer treatments and another was for the victims of a devastating earthquake in another country. The earthquake jar was full. The little boy’s jar was empty. Her comment was not meant to diminish the need in the foreign country, but she simply wanted to know why no one cared as much about the little boy in her own town.

My cynical side wants to think that being trendy is to blame. It’s trendy to talk about being local. It’s trendy to talk about homeless people. It’s trendy to talk about reaching out. And all of these are amazingly wonderful trends to encourage us to be people who care for our world and those around us. But I think that sometimes we talk, and we forget that the point is to live these conversations as realities.

In my less cynical moments I realize that perhaps a lack of awareness in the midst of our busyness is the culprit for our lack of truly local lives.

We are bombarded with admonitions to buy organic and locally. There are little stickers in the grocery stores now that highlight for us which items are from our town. In an effort to sell more, the producers have educated us, reminded us, and they have made it a little easier.

But living an organic, local life in the broadest sense of the definition is no less important than buying meat that was raised in the pasture right outside of town. And it requires just as much work.

If we look around our lives, where could be put the stickers that would remind us to lively locally? Would it be on the oven, so that we remembered to take muffins to the elderly lady who lives next door? Would it be on our laptop to remind us to just say hello to the person next to us in the coffee shop? Would it be on our kids’ backpacks to remind us to ask the mom standing outside the school with us waiting for our children if she would like to come over for a cup of tea?

Or maybe it would be going to a book talk for a book we love at the local bookstore and striking up a conversation with the person in line waiting to get their book signed? Perhaps it would be putting a sticker on our frisbee to remind us about the community team game we are playing in on Saturday or just be putting a sticker on some of the cans in the pantry to remind us to drop them off at the local food bank?

Organic has become a buzz word, and I’m afraid that we are far too prone to attach ourselves to one of its definitions way down on the list. Sure there is an element of natural and simple that is analogous to the way that things grow in nature, but one of the primary definitions of organic is “that which is pertaining to life,”

I, however, am so often quick to cling to the “let it just happen” type of organic, that I sometimes miss the part about the life.

I have a pile of organic apples on my counter right now, and I can’t help but ask myself, did they just naturally occur? Is it so simple that these beautiful red orbs of sweetness just appeared? Of course not. The seed was planted. The ground was cultivated. The sun and rain fed and watered the plant. The farmer tended to each of those apples. Someone picked those apples, and many other people made sure they made their way to me while my organic apples were not assaulted by unnatural substances to make it grow faster and bigger, the natural processes that brought about life were intentional and there was some sort of interaction for those apples to exist and thrive.

So it is with an organic life. We must be intentional. We do not have to be forceful. We do not have to spray down the relationships in our lives with growth enhancers, but we do have to plant them. We do have to cultivate them. We do have to be involved in them.

Organic—of life
Local—where we are
Maybe that is all it is.
Living life where we are.

For me I know that it is easier to buy local than live it. Most days I would rather assuage my conscience by plunking down the extra coin to have the local cheese and feel good about supporting someone in my town, than I would like to reach out to someone and work on a relationship.

But if local and organic are only words that I am using to inform the way that I buy groceries, than my life is probably not as rich as it could be.

Buy local when you can.
Live local as much as you can.
And your local will be a better place for it.

**There are so many ways to be local, and I know so many of you are doing truly amazing things. Feel free to share below the ways that you are living locally, and who knows…maybe we’ll all be inspired to be more local wherever we are.

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