If you've ever been to a farmer's market in your city or town, you've probably read signs or heard people say that it's important to "buy local," urging you to support farmers in your community. You might be wondering, "Why should I buy local?" What are the benefits of buying local? Here are just a few reasons why it is important to buy local.
Buy Fresh and Organic Food Locally.
You may not realize it, but buying food from local farmers has many benefits over shopping with big food manufacturers, and the smaller your community the better. Have you ever received a sack of oranges or tomatoes from a friend with a garden? If you have, you probably noticed how fresh it tasted, and how different it was from fruit or vegetables you bought at a big grocery chain. Locally produced food is often fresher than fruits and vegetables that are grown far away and transported countless miles in refrigerated trucks. Local food moves from the garden to the table much quicker, offering you better taste and more nutrients. Unlike large corporate farms, local farms usually have less access to large amounts of harmful insecticides and fertilizers, so your fruits and veggies will come into contact with less chemicals. Organic food is easier to find in small local communities.
Buy Cheap Seasonal Produce Locally.
Remember your friend who always brings you a big crate of fresh tomatoes at the end of the summer? You may not realize it, but your friend is helping you eat in harmony with the growing season and natural harvest. While it may be more convenient to buy seasonal fruits like pumpkins and oranges year-round, it is actually much cheaper to buy your fresh produce while it's in season, so fill up on as many fresh tomatoes as you can while they're cheap! Buying local keeps you in tune with the natural seasons, and may help you discover fruits and vegetables you wouldn't normally bother to try, like kumquats or butternut squash. When the seasons change, the availability of the fresh produce does as well and you will be able to try new items throughout the year.
Strengthen your Local Economy and Community with Local Food.
We sometimes forget about grass roots efforts in our global economy, but buying food that was grown and harvested close to where you live keeps the money within your community, supports family farmers, and helps create jobs in your area. Building a strong local economy may protect your region from recessions that occur at the national and global levels.
Get to Know Your Neighbors at Local Farmer's Markets.
In the Thanksgiving season, remember how two diverse groups, the Pilgrims and Native Americans, historically bonded over a cornucopia of fresh food. Farmers markets in your area provide an arena for members of your community to gather, meet, and bond over a variety of issues. Local food brings together people who share similar political and environmental concerns about the future and want to work toward a common goal. Buying locally establishes trust and connection in our community, so make some friends and mingle at your next farmers' market!
Buying local products like raw honey from Florida enables you to connect with your food producer. If you ever go to a farmers' market, you'll learn pretty fast that most farmers are talkative and welcoming folks with a lot of interesting stories to tell. When you purchase local foods, you have the opportunity to talk to farmers about their farming practices, what they feed their animals, and the chemicals they spray on their crops. You can also gain an understanding of how weather and other conditions affect crops and harvest. This way you can connect a face and a place with the food you eat.
Buying Local Helps the Environment.
When you support local farmers, you help preserve your area's farmland from urban development. In a sense, buying from local farm protects natural ecosystems and open spaces. You also help decrease our reliance on the foreign oil required to ship food thousands of miles.
Buying Local Conserves Energy.
Do you know that a lot of food you buy at the grocery store travels approximately 1,500 miles to get to your shelf? The distance is often much more if you purchase imported food. That's a lot of gas any way you look at it, but especially when you realize you could buy fresher and more organic produce in your own town if you just planned ahead a little. When you buy from local vendors, you conserve energy that is needed for food transportation.
Buying Local is Sustainable and Beneficial for the Future.
When you support local farms you keep them thriving in your community, ensuring that the next generations will also have access to fresh fruits and vegetables that are full of nutrients, in season and not subject to as many fertilizers and chemicals. Now you know why it is important to buy local. Check the newspaper or ask around to plan for your city's next farmers' market!