When you need to go grocery shopping, where do you go? Maybe you go to whichever grocery store is closest to your house, or perhaps you just pick up a few items when you already happen to be at a big box store, like Target or Walmart. Perhaps you make multiple stops to try to get the best deals in town. Next time you need to head out for some fresh produce, consider shopping local. Read on to learn why.
Buying local supports local
By purchasing food from people within your community, you are in turn supporting your community as a whole. Small businesses, like those of your local farmers, rely on those in the area to support them. A small-scale farmer isn’t likely to spend money shipping their berries or apples across the country. They want to sell to their neighbors, friends, family, and anyone else who happens to pass their farmstand. If a farmer is being supported by their community, they then have profit that they can put back into the local economy, whether it be at the local cafe or the hair salon. Supporting your local businesses can even lead to more job opportunities in your area. In fact, up to 90% of net new jobs are created by locally owned businesses (1). Plus, becoming friendly with the people in your community is always a benefit.
The sooner you eat a fruit after harvest, the better it’s going to taste. So, it makes sense that you’d want to buy produce as close to the harvest location as possible. This also means that you’ll get more nutrients out of the produce you purchase. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, most produce loses 30% of its nutrients just three days after harvest (2). Spinach can lose up to 90% of its nutrients within one day of harvest. At a farmers market, you’ll likely be buying produce that was harvested the day before, if not that morning.
When you buy from a farmstand in your community, you probably only drive a few miles to get to it. Or if weather permits, you may walk or bike over instead. If your town has public transportation, it’s even possible you’d go by bus, train, or subway to get your produce. No matter how you get to your local produce spot, you’re definitely making a more environmentally sustainable choice than if you went to the grocery store. The produce at the grocery store is usually brought in from other areas, whether it be out of state, or even out of the country. So, that orange you just bought from your local grocer? Well, maybe it was grown in Florida, and you live in Minnesota. In order to get to you, maybe the oranges were shipped on a plane, driven on a large truck, or stowed away on a train. By the time the orange reached your grocery cart, it’s already had a negative impact on the environment. (And it’s lost some key nutrients!) The transportation sector of the food production industry accounts for 14% of the energy used to produce food on a large scale (3). By supporting local, you’ll help cut down the carbon emissions, and you might get some cardio in on your pursuit of fruit (and veggies!).