We know that organic foods are healthier for us than conventionally grown foods, but buying locally grown organic foods can be even better—for us and for the planet.
First off, buying local generally means that the food you get is grown within 100 miles or less of where you live. By buying local, you avoid buying food that is shipped from sometimes thousands of miles away. That alone is not only good for you by getting fresh, healthy and often just-picked produce close by, but it’s also good for our earth, since less food traveling or shipping means fewer carbon emissions.
When you choose to buy local, you’re also investing in your community—by helping to stimulate jobs and the local economy, including your own, since you can often save money when buying locally. In fact, it’s estimated that 54 percent of every $100 spent locally stays in the state, while only 14 percent stays when you buy at a big box store. Another benefit is that you get to know others in your community and can learn more about the foods that grow seasonally in your area.
Buying local can also mean a boost for your diet. As mentioned, produce is often at its freshest, but it can also mean replacing more unhealthy foods and snacks with these locally grown gems. While you can find junk food items at other stores, you’re probably not going to find them at a local farmer’s market.
By purchasing locally, you can also help preserve our environment, including green space and farmland, since buying foods grown and raised closer to where you live helps in those areas. By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, that there will be green space for wildlife, and that future generations will have access to locally grown food. When farms are financially viable, there’s less chance of selling them off for development, thereby disrupting the entire ecosystem. When you buy locally grown food, you are helping to preserve the agricultural landscape and all within it.
Local food also protects genetic diversity. Modern industrial agriculture is known for producing food varieties that will ripen all at once and can withstand chemicals, harvesting equipment and have a long shelf life. Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable can do this, resulting in little to no genetic diversity in the plants they grow. By contrast, local farmers that sell direct grow a large number of varieties—many of which are heirlooms, which have been passed down from generation to generation. Plus, they’re definitely not the genetically modified versions you can find in corporate agriculture practices.
Locally grown foods can also be safer for you and your family. Since you know who is raising it and where it came from, you are much more informed about the food you eat. Likewise, the fewer steps between you and your food source can mean that there’s less chance of contamination due to less changing of hands of the produce.
Buy local. It’s good for you and for our earth.