“Buy local!” It’s a tip which features in every ‘How to save the planet’ article. But why is local shopping so great? And how can you fill your weekly shop with local produce in this globalised economy without breaking the bank? We may have the answers:
Why is buying local better?
Better for the environment
OK, this one is a bit dependent on the kind of local produce you go for. If you’re in a major agribusiness area dominated by chemical-happy grain barons, buying local may do more harm than good. But, if you can find small, independent producers in your locale who don’t destroy habitat or drench the soil in chemicals, you’re onto a winner. Buying from these kinds of producers not only helps to sustain and encourage their ethical practices, it also shrinks your own carbon footprint. The fewer fossil fuels burned transporting stuff from point of origin to point of purchase, the better!
Supports the local economy
Shop ina supermarket and the majority of your money will line pockets hundreds or thousands of miles away. Shop in a local farm shop or farmers’ market and your spends will go right back into your community. The more money local people can make, the better able they’ll be to provide employment and enrichment for the area. Buying local, from independent producers means that your money will be distributed in a much more equable and direct manner than would otherwise be the case.
Good for your immune system
You’ve heard that eating local honey helps with hayfever, right? Well, the same is kind of true of food grown locally. When you local produce you’re introducing your body to the kind of compounds it will encounter every day. This helps your microbiome and your immune system to prepare itself for the stuff your local environment will throw at you on the regular. Eating potatoes from Denmark is great if you want to prep your body for Danish conditions, but not so useful if you’re in Dorset.
SO MUCH less plastic. Produce trucked in from elsewhere is often packed in plastic as a matter of course. It’s also sorted, transported, stored and displayed in plastic containers. Then sold in plastic bags. While not all local shops are plastic-free, they don’t generally have the resources to vacuum-pack their stuff in oodles of cling film. They also tend to be less rigid in their rules and regs than chain stores, so are usually happy for you to bring your own containers etc (so long as you ask them nicely!)
Community is important. When people come together, great things can happen. A good community is a support structure for members who’ve fallen on hard times, an innovative centre for local development, and (often) quite a lot of fun. There’s honestly no better way to build community than to support local endeavours – so get buying!
How can I make more local choices?
Good question! It’s not always easy to choose local, but here are some suggestions if you’re stuck:
Ask social media
Do you have a community Facebook page, or local social media groups? Asking where and from whom you can buy local produce will yield amazing results. Local growers and crafters will fall over themselves to let you know about their stuff.
Investigate local markets
Markets are a bit of a law unto themselves, but if you can tune in to their schedules then you’re onto a winner. Some markets are held weekly, others monthly, and some pop up as special one-off events. Keep your ear to the ground, and maybe email around if you’re wondering where your nearest market is held.
Farm shops, roadside booths, egg stands, pop-up stalls, signs advertising local wares etc aren’t always easily visible. Keep your eyes out for these kinds of things next time you’re exploring off the beaten track!