Economics may be one of the most compelling reasons to buy local food. Not only are you literally putting your money where your mouth is when you purchase zucchini from a local farmer instead of from a store that has to have vegetables shipped in from across the country, but you’re also putting money back into your local economy, supporting a small business, and protecting the environment around you. (Surely we’ve mentioned our own small business we’re opening this week?)
Once you start looking into the economics of food – factoring in harvesting and labor costs, packaging and shipping costs, and grocery store prices versus farmers’ market prices – it’s hard to see how small farmers are able to make a living growing and raising healthy, often organic or all-natural, vegetables, herbs, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Bigger businesses and their buying power make it hard to compete on price alone. But if you’re willing to pay a bit more for your strawberries and peaches, those extra cents ignite a reaction along the economic food chain that help a local farmer pay his bills, buy seeds and supplies for the next season, and nourish your local economy in a more meaningful way.
The fact that local farmers are essentially small businesses also means there can be greater quality control and care in how your angus beef is raised or sweet potatoes are grown. If you’re the type of person who patronizes your local hardware store rather than a big box store or even if you just prefer the flavors of an independent restaurant to chain dining, then you already know the satisfaction and personal touch that comes from supporting local and small businesses. You can get the same benefit from buying local food, with greater access to the people who fertilized your carrots, so you can ask questions and get to know who they are and how they operate their business. Supporting small business with your food dollars benefits your health as well as your local economy.
Because local food doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles, it not only carries a smaller carbon footprint, making it better for the environment, but it also can be picked closer to peak freshness, making it better for you. The local farmers I’ve talked to are the growers, harvesters, delivery men, and sales women for their farms. When you pay for that tub of Alabama goat cheese, you’re paying for all that work in addition to paying for the environmental benefit, which, when you follow that economic chain, protects your local economy by caring for its future.
The way you choose to spend your money can be one of the most powerful statements about what you care about. Choosing to buy local means you care for the economic health of your community. Even when times are hard, you want your hometown to thrive, so stimulate your economy and buy local!
Source: Emily Brown, Freshfully