Why Buy Local

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Buy local" is a buzzphrase that's been flying around for years, but what exactly does it mean? How do we do it when we are surrounded only by supermarkets and bodegas? And why should we spend more money on such similar products?

How to do it:
1. Find out when and where your nearest farmer's market is held. This is the best way to come face to face with the producer of your food. It's so fun to go and learn about each farmer's particular methods, how they suggest each item is prepared, and see just how many varieties of produce we aren't exposed to in typical supermarkets. Here is a map showing all of America's registered farmer's markets to help you in your search: http://www.localharvest.org/search.jsp?ty=1

2. Not all of your groceries are necessarily going to be local. Think of it as a treat to you and your community. Try to buy things at the farmer's market as often as you can, but know that if you need to do a quick grocery run, you can't expect to have those same things available 24/7. I like to make sure I buy jams and jellies, flour, and fruits and veggies I would normally buy organic (apples, kale, berries, etc.) at the farmer's market, while I tend to fill in the rest at Whole Foods.

3. Try growing your own! Whether it means growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill or growing six crops on an acre of land, harvesting your own food is one of the cheapest and best ways to eat.

4. Check the label.  Even some huge markets like Whole Foods put a tag underneath all products produced locally for that store. When I see that option, I spend the extra dollar.

Why it's worth the cost:
1. Keeping money out of the hands of corporate agriculture. Many executives of ag. companies have moved from the private sector and into government office, deciding how the government should use your tax money (hint-it's to benefit them!). Big government tax allocations are also oftentimes less efficiently spent than local government taxes. If you put your money towards local farmers, you are giving them more money to support local government taxes, which are spent efficiently to benefit that exact community.

2. Small scale, local farming is more respectful to the Earth. From the reduction in fuel required for transportation to the small or even nonexistent use of chemical pesticides, small-scale local is the more altruistic option. Animals are also at least given considerably better living and grazing conditions.

3. The food is just better. It tastes better. It's more nutritional. It's grown with care. It's not made to just be big, fooling us into thinking we are getting more than what we need. In my experience, local foods are usually organic and almost always non-GMO. (GMOs are allowed in the US and Canada without being labelled as such, but almost nowhere else in the world).

4. Your supporting people and families, not entities. Isn't that just a nice thought? Your money helps a family stay afloat and continue to run their small business.

If you can't buy what you're looking for locally, I say the next best option is organic! Even though it may not be nearby, at least it's produced with some ethics in mind.



By Dayna Frazer