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Local, Organic, Free-Range. Is it All About the Taste?

Truly free-range chicken enjoying the pasture

Does Your Local, Free-Range Turkey Taste Better?

When it comes to “alternative” food production, such as organic and local, there’s plenty of skepticism. Recently, I’ve heard a lot people asking whether the food tastes better. Whenever the origins of a free-range Thanksgiving turkey are discussed there’s almost always someone asking if it tastes better. In another instance I asked our brewing grain provider if he could source some local or organic grains and his response was the same: “I’d be curious if the beer would even taste better.” I’m always baffled because better taste is one of the last things I think about.
Of course, taste is important, but to me that misses the point of changing the industrial food system. Are we trying to get tastier food, or are we trying to support the creation of local foodsheds supplying healthier food produced in a more humane and sustainable fashion with a lower impact on the environment? Sometimes organic tastes better, sometimes it doesn’t. Frequently local tastes better since it’s fresher and hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals to preserve it over long distances or ripened in a crate on an airplane or something. But not always. Although it's frequently the case, better taste isn’t guaranteed.

Consumers Should Value More Than Taste

Shifting away from conventional products is about more than taste. It’s about understanding that local producers are valuable members of the community. It’s about supporting local and regional biodiversity and celebrating seasonal food production. It’s about protecting and nurturing the soils and waterways that sustain our population. It’s about letting pigs wallow in the mud, cows eat grass and chickens take a dirt bath and eat worms. It's about letting farmers save and plant their own seeds. These are the things that conventional farming prevents. You’re supporting more than better tasting food when you buy locally and organically. 90%+ of the time it will taste better and be healthier for you, but that’s just icing on the cake.
Support your local farmers this holiday season, it has a bigger impact than you think.


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