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ing about GMOs or humane animal treatment.)


Organic advocates point out that a genetically modified animal could be fed genetically modified feed and confined to a narrow pen and still be billed as natural. A loaf of natural bread could be made with grains re- peatedly sprayed with pesticides and man-made fertilizer. “Natural refers to the end product,” explains the Or- ganic Trade Association. “It does not provide any information about how the product was produced.”


What about buying local? Rodale


argues that, while focusing on local is great for reducing farm-to-plate miles, if it isn’t organic, it isn’t necessarily addressing the larger issue of pesticide and antibiotic use.


Noting that more than 4 billion pounds of pesticides are used annu- ally in the United States, she points to studies from the National Institutes of Health and the Mount Sinai Medi- cal Center Children’s Environmental Health Center that suggest links between agricultural antibiotic use and the rise in drug-resistant staph infections in humans, and between oganophosphate pesticides and cancer and diabetes. “It is fine to buy local, but if there are chemicals in it, then the farmer is contaminating your own community,” Rodale says. “That’s even worse.”


The Locavore Way In early 2005, Jennifer Maiser and a handful of friends in San Francisco decided to limit what they ate for a month to what was produced within 100 miles of home base. By Au- gust, 1,000 people had signed on at Maiser’s EatLocal Challenge.com. By 2007, “locavore” was the Word of the Year of the New Oxford American Dictionary. “It just snowballed,” recalls


Maiser. “I think it had a lot to do with changes in the organic movement. In the 1990s, if you were eating organic, you pretty much were eating food from a local farmer. But when the big companies came in and you could get organic produce grown in Mexico, it wasn’t the same anymore. We still


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wanted to know where our food was coming from.”


Professional dancer-turned- ethnobotanist Leda Meredith started a 250-mile challenge in 2007, in part to see if a time-crunched professional in wintery Brooklyn could achieve what Locavores in warmer climes had. At first, adjusting to the realities was


rough. Local cooking oil was hard to find (she saved the rendered fat from her locally raised duck and used it to pop locally grown popcorn) and her one-bedroom apartment was not ideal for stockpiling canned produce (she keeps canned local tomatoes and dried wild mushrooms under her bed). “But, by year’s end, it had be-


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