Although the term “buying locally” can refer to a number of products, produce purchased from farmer’s markets, food co-ops, and local food stands is what usually comes to mind. And though it may be more convenient to have a one-stop-shop for all of your grocery needs, there are some definite benefits to buying your food from a local source, which includes:
Buying locally is fresher
Let’s face it: When we pick up a tomato, green pepper, or strawberry from the supermarket, we try to place in the back of our minds the number of days that the particular fruit or veggie in our hands has traveled to get from the vine to the market. When we buy locally, the produce has been picked within the past few days. That means that local growers can leave the fruits and vegetables in the garden or on the trees longer, giving them time to actually ripen — rather than having the food ripen in a box in transit, which can create blander produce. Farmer’s markets, food co-ops, and local food stands, provide the produce at its peak when it is in season. As the seasons change, so will the variety — but fresher food with better taste prevails.
Buying locally is healthier
Growing for Market magazine presents findings in their article “WhyBuyLocalFoods?” that support this notion: Recent studies have shown that fresh produce begins losing nutrients as soon as it is harvested. Therefore, food that has been picked within a day or two will be much more nutrient-rich than its counterpart, which has been shipped over several days and then sits on the shelves for an indeterminable amount of time. Local food preserves more of the “good stuff” our bodies need.
Buying locally boosts the local economy
Judith D. Schwartz discusses this idea in her article “BuyingLocal: HowitBooststheEconomy.” When you hear the phrase “boosting the economy,” you generally think of your own community — however, it is not necessarily how much we spend within our own community, but rather how much that stays in the community that makes the difference. By purchasing locally, there is a much higher chance that the money you spent will be redistributed within the same community. Buying local keeps your money at home and working for you.
Buying locally is easy
Though it may not be the one-stop-shopping trip you are used to, there are over 3,100 farmer’s markets, food co-ops, and local food stands across the nation. Visit http://www.localharvest.org/ to find one near you. You can also check community bulletin boards, local newspapers, or listen to events announcements on your local radio station to find out where you can buy locally in your community.
When we shop for food, there are a number of qualities that may determine whether we place that food in our refrigerators or back on the shelves. If freshness and taste top your list, consider buying from your local provider. You will not only be getting some great food, but you will be helping out your community as well.