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Trying to shop for food ethically can be very confusing. Should you buy organic bananas or fairtrade? Local carrots or organic ones from the supermarket? Here are the basics of what each means and which to choose:

Organic: Grown/reared using only organically approved pesticides, food or fertlisers, or none at all. Therefore should have no pesticide or antibiotics (fed to non-organically reared animals to make them grow faster) residues. Organic farming is also better for the countryside and wildlife, and animals generally have a better quality of life.

Local: Food grown in the local area, usually to be found at farmers' markets or local shops rather than supermarkets. May or may not be organic, depending on the grower, but if buying from a farmers' market the farmer will get a fairer share of the profits than from that food sold to supermarkets. Fewer food miles means less energy use in getting your food to your table.

Fairtrade: Like buying local food at a farmers' market but of goods that can only be grown abroad such as coffee, chocolate or bananas. Many growers are, or are working towards, being organic. See Fairtrade: the facts.

So buy organic for your health and that of the environment, and where possible buy local organic to support farmers and producers in your local area. For food that you just can't get here, buy fairtrade where possible. If it's a choice between organic and fairtrade, then it's up to you to choose between your health and your conscience. Perhaps alternating each week may be an option, and in the meantime, get on to the manager of the shop and ask when they will be stocking an organic fairtrade product!

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