Eating Better Than Organic

The new "local foods" movement is questioning whether that pesticide-free apple is better than one grown in your own backyard. John Cloud investigates the new food fight

Ben Stechschulte / Redux for TIME

A selection of fresh vegetables from the Windflower Farm in upstate New York, near the Vermont border.

Not long ago I had an apple problem. Wavering in the produce section of a Manhattan grocery store, I was unable to decide between an organic apple and a nonorganic apple (which was labeled conventional, since that sounds better than "sprayed with pesticides that might kill you"). It shouldn't have been a tough choice--who wants to eat pesticide residue?--but the organic apples had been grown in California. The conventional ones were from right here in New York State. I know I've been listening to too much npr because I started wondering: How much Middle Eastern oil did it take to get...

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