Buy local! Buy local! We’ve all seen the message popping up on social media platforms and on the “sourced locally” signs in grocery stores and restaurants across the nation. But, is it important? Does it really matter? Well… Let’s see.
Can you remember a time when your parents purchased produce and meats from the local farmer? If so, you may also remember the tons of fun you had exploring the farm while the folks conducted business. Or maybe the excitement of trying to guess what was in the huge box delivered by the postman, only to be disappointed to discover it was only the monthly meat delivery mom or dad mail-ordered from that rancher from parts unknown to you. Or what about those fragrant holiday fruit baskets delivered direct from the farm?
Besides the feel good memories engendered by such practices, there were other really good things being fostered in those days. Things like building relationships of trust with the people who produced the foods you consumed, and direct support of local economies by ensuring the growth of small farmers and producers and U.S. agriculture as a whole.
Building Relationships of Trust
Buying from local growers and producers, allows consumers to learn about the practices of their food sources. It allows consumers to build relationships of trust and actively engage in the food selection process. Consumers can become more confident about the food they consume when they know their growers and producers follow sustainable food practices.
Purchasing from local growers and producers who use sustainable food practices (which include USDA certified growers and producers) increases the chance of long-term natural food production. While sustainable food practices vary among growers and producers, they generally involve: (i) regular crop rotation for growers; (ii) not using chemicals and other toxic substances that harm land, humans and other animals; and (iii) producing crops and other foods using practices that are in balance with the natural environment and minimize environmental footprint. Buying local also impacts global warming factors by reducing carbon dioxide emissions caused by transportation.
A recent study published by the British Journal of Nutrition suggests organically produced food is more nutritious than conventionally grown produce and may help prevent disease. Other benefits reported in the study include: (i) an increase in antioxidants (which help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other food related illnesses); (ii) higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals; and (iii) reduction in residual pesticides and the side-effects associated with pesticides.
Purchasing from local growers and producers directly feeds the local economy of the consumer by keeping dollars in the community. It encourages increase in the local production of healthy food and food-based products through increased demand. It may also produce cost savings, as many local growers and producers offer discounts and specials for repeat customers.
Does supporting local growers and producers by buying locally really matter? In a word, yes! If you don’t live in a farming community, find a nearby Farmer’s Market or Community Garden.Jody Amato is a freelance writer and editor and regular contributor to Eating in the Real with Renée TM. To find out more about Jody visit her website at jodyedits.com.