6 Powerful Reasons to Buy Local Food & Support Your Community
As shoppers become more conscious of their buying choices, concerned about their health and supporting their local communities, the “shop local” trend has been on the rise for the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred even more people to buy local food—and there are no signs of this movement slowing down.
A recent report by the Michigan State University Extension anticipates that since many consumers have positive experiences shopping at farm and farmer’s markets and buying directly from producers, the upswing will continue.
So, why buy local food when it’s so easy to hit the nearest big box store? There are many benefits to shopping with your local farmers, producers, and grocery stores, including:
- Providing healthier, higher quality, and tastier products for you and your family.
- Keeping more money in your local economy.
- Helping create a stronger community and product diversity.
- Supporting clean environmental practices and effects.
Keep reading for six powerful reasons to buy local food. You can benefit yourself and your community in more ways than you could ever imagine!
Stronger Community & Transparency
Imagine knowing and trusting the people who grow, process, package, and sell you your food on a personal level. You can enjoy that peace of mind when you shop locally!
Ask questions and get to know your local farmers, producers, and shop owners. Local businesses and their teams typically have a better understanding of the products they sell, whether it’s their own or sourced from another small business in town. Plus, they’re happy to educate customers. You’ll know exactly what goes into your food and how the local produce is grown and livestock is raised.
You can even learn about the seasons and land in your region and enjoy a place where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about the local nature and agriculture.
If you’re looking for ways to get involved and learn more about the farms in your area, here a few great places to start:
- Social media: Follow farmers in your area, learn about their practices, and ask them questions. Many will also share events and ways you can experience their farm and products!
- Farm tours & stays: Many farms offer engaging tours and events that are fun and educational for the whole family. You can even find some on vacation rental sites like Airbnb to enjoy an overnight stay for a true farm experience!
- Farmer’s markets & stands: Search for farmer’s markets near you, which have a regular schedule when in season. Get a fair amount of your shopping done (and even stock up for preserving!).
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Buy a share of the farmer’s production and receive their bounty regularly throughout the season.
- Local mom & pop shops: The owners of small shops that carry local food products tend to know the farmers, producers, and food artisans in your area.
- Local grocery stores: Look for locally sourced food. When shopping for meat and dairy products, ask the meat preparation worker or the cheesemonger which products are local and a bit about them.
You probably don’t have to look far, either. Examples of regional grocery stores that tend to carry locally produced foods include:
- Wegmans (East Coast)
- Mariano’s (Chicago)
- Weis (PA)
- ShopRite (NJ)
Or, check out your area for farmer’s markets and farm stores, some of which also offer delivery and other great resources.
- Philly Foodworks (Philadelphia, PA)
- Lancaster Central Market (Lancaster City, PA)
- Reading Terminal Market (Philadelphia, PA)
- Chelsea Market (Manhattan, NY)
- Lexington Market (Baltimore, MD)
- Hollins Market (Baltimore, MD)
So start exploring and shopping away!
Better Flavor & Health Benefits
If you have purchased from a farmer’s market or directly from the farm before, you probably remember how vibrant the fresh veggies and fruits were and how fresh and tender the meats looked.
Local foods often retain more flavor and nutrients. Produce is allowed to ripen naturally. Meat and dairy products are processed in a trusted local facility, so the farmer has more oversight to ensure quality. And because local food spends less time in transit from farm to table, there is less nutrient loss. The fresher the food, the more nutrients!
Additionally, fruits and vegetables grown in season may be more nutritious, according to findings from Montclair State University. Researchers compared the Vitamin C levels of broccoli grown in season with broccoli imported out of season, and found that the second had only half the Vitamin C.
Finally, buying local food tends to be safer because small farms typically use much fewer pesticides than large farms—or none at all. You and your family will enjoy clean eating with little to no additives and preservatives. Of course, this is especially true when you support organic farms.
More Bang for Your Buck
Shopping clean, healthy food from producers in your community doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. Focus on intentional spending on nutritious food, rather than buying the “cheap” junk food (which contains few nutrients) or supposedly “healthy” foods (do you actually know what’s in there and where it came from?).
For example, skip the $5 fast food burger. Instead, get your ground beef, cheese, and veggie toppings from your local farmers. The amount will be enough to feed the whole family, and it will taste so much better. You could even buy in bulk and freeze the extra meat (along with many veggies) for later.
Clean, local eating is an investment. When you plan your shopping and meals and do it right, it can be simple and affordable. And you’ll always have the comfort of knowing where your food has come from and what’s in it.
Promotes Genetic Diversity & Healthy Soil
When you shop at the large stores, you may notice that all of the food tends to look the same. One of the beautiful things about buying local food is that you can support large, medium, and small farms. It is challenging for small farms to compete in supermarkets, making it difficult to find their products.
By shopping locally, you can try a variety of products from all sorts of farmers. Small farms tend to grow many varieties of crops to provide a long harvest season, an array of colors, and diverse, delicious flavors. You can choose farms that suit your standards, from responsible farming practices to organic, hand-picked, and handmade products.
Many large farms use a monocrop system, in which a single crop is grown over a wide area. This can cause soil erosion. Since small farms grow a variety of crops and use crop rotation techniques, they help promote healthy soil. This leads to healthier crops and reduces soil erosion
Typically small livestock farms also provide higher diversity. For example, Painterland Farms raises six different cow breeds, which vary in color, size, and purpose. We crossbreed all of these cows to produce the healthiest calves possible (this is called hybrid vigor). Genetic diversity in our herd ensures fewer health problems, and better overall milk and meat quality.
There is also the perk of finding a variety of organic, heirloom produce and unique meat cuts that you won’t typically find at the supermarket. Impress everyone at every dinner with beautiful, flavorful, wholesome meals.
Reduce Environmental Impacts
The environmental impacts don’t stop at healthy soil. Residents in areas with more local businesses log 26% less driving miles. Residents don’t have to travel as far for essentials like groceries. Locally owned businesses make more local purchases, requiring less transportation. Since local food doesn’t have to travel as far, there is also less waste.
When local agricultural businesses operate out of towns or city centers, they help preserve open space. By supporting them, you help prevent suburban sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.
Boost the Local Economy & Community
Did you know that 90% of net new jobs in the U.S. are created by locally owned businesses? That’s right, small local companies are the largest employer nationally and provide the most jobs to residents within their communities.
Buying local food helps keep your local farmers in business, therefore helping your local community members. For every $100 spent at a local business, at least $58 recirculates and remains in the local economy. Unique farms, producers, and food businesses also attract tourists, helping to promote agritourism and bring more money into the local economy.
Finally, local businesses donate almost 2.5x more per employee to local charitable causes than large, national chains. These include local nonprofits, events, and teams. So when you give to local businesses, they give back to those in need. It’s just another way your money continues to do good close to home.
As you can see, there are many critical benefits to buying local food—and many ways that you can make a significant difference in your community. Shopping with small farmers and producers in your region creates a cycle that promotes a thriving home, community, economy, and environment.
If you are ready to feed your family all-natural, pasture-raised, grain- and grass-fed meat and dairy products, browse our full selection today! From delectable beef cuts to farm fresh eggs, we’ve got you covered.