Did you know that local food is not necessarily organic and organic food is not necessarily local?

Your local produce or meat, chicken, pork, milk or cheese may be from an area near you, but that does not necessarily mean it is certified organic. Many farms and ranches may use organic methods or practices but may not actually be USDA-certified organic.


Local is a geographic destination that might be quite vague or very specific depending on who’s asked. For some, local is their county or neighborhood while others consider local to be within their state, region or a certain mileage from the home (e.g. within 100 miles of their home). Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project considers “local” to mean products grown, raised or produced within 100 miles of Asheville, a 60-county region of Western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian Mountains. These products earn their Appalachian Grown designation. (Source:

Being locally grown has nothing to do with food safety or nutrition. Locally grown does not necessarily mean “pesticide-free.”


Organic does have a specific meaning and is an agricultural certification established by the USDA’s National Organic Program to insure products are raised and produced according to national standards. (Source: Use of the organic label means farmers and ranchers follow specific guidelines about how crops are raised and how animals are cared for and fed.

An organic label or symbol has nothing to do with food safety or nutrition. Organic does not necessarily mean “pesticide-free.”

The bottom line

Organic food is not necessarily local and local food is not necessarily organic.

Talk to Leah: Leah McGrath is the corporate dietitian for Ingles Markets. Follow her @InglesDietitian. Contact her at, 800-334-4936 or at

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