Although buying local has become somewhat of a recent trend, there is no reason to discount it as just another fad. There are several valid reasons that buying local will have positive impact not only on your health, but also on your community, environment, and pocket book.
For starters, buying local puts money back into your community, and it does it quickly. Instead of your funds trading hands a thousand times to get to a corporate bank account, you’re putting money back into the hands of the people who have worked so hard to produce the product you’ve just purchased. Although buying local products may mean a bit larger price tag, rest assured that price is being balanced elsewhere. The work your local labor force has put in is well worth the extra buck. And not only is that money that’s being put back into the local economy stimulating more economic growth for your community, it’s also creating and sustaining jobs that may otherwise be lost to other states or even overseas. Many local farmers’ markets are even going so far as to use their own currency! This shift to local cash is also important in keeping the cash flow moving. If your market offers a local currency, it enables the money to stay and circulate within a confined area. Although its value may be analogous to the national currency, it nonetheless becomes a visual metaphor for a deepening community involvement. That piece of capital takes on value that it didn’t have previously, and it maintains that value only in a specifically defined environment.
But how can buying local keep you healthier? This is a two-tiered answer. When you buy local, you use less fuel to get to your local market, and your farmer uses less fuel to get your product to you. How so? Here’s an example using a dry grain product. When a farmer normally sells a product to the market at large, the farmer takes a semi-trailer to an exchange point. The grain is shuffled off the the truck and then onto a barge or into other trucks. All of the product that farmer has worked so hard to produce is mixed in with product that other farmers have produced. This product is then shipped by barge or truck to another point where it is processed. At the processing plant, the grain is then made into whatever product that company makes and this product is then shipped from the production house to a distribution house, the distribution house then sends out shipment upon shipment of product to their sellers. Where upon you, the consumer, purchase said product. Some product may be shipped back to the town where the farm-product was originally produced…or it might be shipped overseas. We just don’t know. Long answer short, buying local eliminates fuel cost to both the environment, by elimination of who knows how many tons of CO2, and to the consumer’s pocket book.
The second tier to this answer is simple. Buying locally grown products puts you in contact with those who grow your food. If you purchase spring greens from a department store, it’s likely that the fellow who stocked those spring greens has no clue when, where, or how that product was grown. Buying locally grown products puts a face on your farmer. It also allows for interaction between the consumer and the producer! You have the buying power, and you now have a responsible purchasing partner. Ask the farmer what their practices are. You will get more out of your purchase if you have rapport with a local grower than with a department store clerk. If you know the farmer, then you can know how your food is grown and treated.
Though there are many more advantages to purchasing local products, the above practices will go much farther than you may realize. What your farmer sells to the larger companies rarely allows him/her to pay for the production of their product. If we can invigorate our local economy—invigorate our farmers—the gaps that exist in our local markets will be realized, and quickly filled by enthusiastic entrepreneurs who are concerned about, and are active in their communities.
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For more information on how buying locally produced goods benefits your community, try visiting your local farmers’ market, or check out these other great articles: