Everyone is always saying that you should buy local food. We all hear how it’s a good thing, but they never really tell you much more than that. Well, we are ones in favor of explanations, not blanket statements. For all those who like to know the answers, we must first explore the question. Why should one buy local? Let’s start with one answer first: Buying local food supports the local economy. That being said, some hypothetical situations are needed to make light of the answer.
Situation A: A shopper goes to the nearest grocery store, picks up some decent looking produce (not locally grown, mind you), and goes to check-out line. The shopper pays, and the money gets put into the register. Simple enough, but what happens with the money after that? It eventually gets deposited into corporate bank accounts, where it is used to pay wages and expenses that occur outside the store, city, state, and often outside the country. Well, that does not seem to exactly work in the favor of the local community and nearby neighborhoods, with the money being spent going to benefit others hundreds of miles away. And how does that make shoppers feel? The answer: Not exactly terrific, to say the least. Perhaps we should take a look at the alternative situation.
Situation B: A shopper goes to the local farmers’ market, picks up some of the freshest produce from one of the vendor booths (grown 30 miles south of town), and proceeds to pay the seller (who harvested the produce that same morning). The farmer puts the money into a small cash box. Sounds good, but what happens to the money after that? Well, this part is a little bit different. The farmer stops by a local bar after the market to purchase a drink, where the pub owner goes to the local barbershop and pays for a haircut, in which the barber goes to the café bistro next door to purchase a salad, where the chef bought the ingredients from the same original farmer at the market. Several people in the local community directly benefited from the purchase of the local food by the shopper. They are all smiling. And the shoppers, how does it make them feel? While nothing short of spectacular, of course. Buying local foods provides many benefits to the local community, and it often does so in a full circle.
Situation B certainly sounds like a good thing, but just how good is it really? TheNew Economics Foundation in London claims that every dollar spent locally generates approximately twice as much income for the local economy. In essence, a shopper that does not buy local is missing out on more than just the benefit of feeling good about their purchase, but they are contributing half as much to the small business economic development that occurs when keeping money in the local economy. That same development can lead to job growth and further development within the community.
There are certainly more reasons as to why one should buy local, but helping your local economy and community is a pretty darn good one. Since eating local ultimately benefits the shopper in so many ways, it seems like one can’t help but to smile about it. 🙂