Buying Local: How and Why Should I Do This?

By: Colette Hankin

Buying locally grown produce is an easy way to get delicious, healthy, fruits and vegetables. There has been much research done on this topic, and the findings show that consumers do not know how accessible locally grown produce can be and the benefits that it has on not only their body, but also the environment, and their community. There are many other reasons, and lots of places that one can by locally grown produce so that everyone can live a happy and healthy life!

Buying Local: What Does This Mean?
Buying local means that you buy produce that was grown close to where you live. An example could live near Portland, Oregon and there could be a sign that says “insert smalltown here near Portland” blueberries. You would then know that those blueberries are from your hometown. When some states are smaller though, the signs could just saw the state name and not a region, or town in the state. (1)
Why Should I Buy Local?
external image heirloom+tomato+spectrum.jpgThere are so many reasons to buy locally grown produce. One of the main reasons is that this produce not only tastes 100% better than produce bought from a big-box store, it also has more nutritional value for you too. This means that the nutrients from the produce are fresher because of the time it takes to get from the farm to your hands is a lot less. (2) This produce also has genetic diversity. Genetic diversity is when there are lots of different varieties of the produce. Sometimes farmers that grow for big box stores, only grow one or two varieties which increases the chances for some varieties to become extinct, or die out, and also increases the chances to have illnesses and outbreaks in the communities because of food. The harvest lasts longer and also provides more colors and varieties when they come from smaller farms!! (3).

Another interesting idea about why to buy local produce is that it not only is good for your body, but also your mind. When you go out in the fresh air to buy your own food, you are out in the sunshine gathering up crucial Vitamin D nutrients. Vitamin D is good for your whole body; your bones, heart, immune system and even has been shown to better your disposition (5).

There are many reasons to buy locally, but one final reason that many people think about is how buying local affects the environment in a positive way. Farms that are taken care of preserve top soil and can provide clean water to the community. (3). These farms also provide homes for wildlife and helps preserve agricultural space across the United States. (4) The fuels that it takes to get the food from the farms to you is also cut down so the air is cleaner to breathe for everyone around you as well (5). There are countless more reasons that you will discover to buy local when you start doing so too!
Now That I Know Why, Where Can I Go To Buy Local?
There are so many choices when it comes to buying locally grown produce on where to go. There are some stores like Whole Foods (1) that sell local produce from thaexternal image IthacaFarmersMarket.jpgt branch’s specific location, but the most prevalent and popular way to buy local fruits and veggies is from farmers’ markets.
A farmers’ market is a place where farmers from around the area can sell their products to the community in which they are in. For those who have smart phones there is an app that they can use from FoodLander where you can plug in your zip code and it will find the farmers’ markets within a small mile radius from you. (6). The USDA has a Farmers’ Market search that can be used as well and most farmers’ markets have very flexible schedules. Some even will accept WIC and SNAP for those who utilize those to get their food (7).



So What Have I Learned?
Hopefully you know the benefits of buying fruits and veggies that are locally grown. Sometimes you can even buy eggs or cheeses from local farms too. Locally grown food is not only better for you and your family than the big box stores because of the packed in nutrients. This food is also fresher and less likely to have been used with pesticides or other harmful toxins. Buying local may seem scary but it is quite easy and because farmer’s markets are all around communities, it does not need to be a hassle. Don’t be shy when going to farmers’ markets the farmers probably love talking about their products! Go to a farmers’ market today and get some yummy fruits and veggies for you and your family. Healthy food is also delicious!

Resources:
1. Locally Grown, Raised, and Produced. Whole Foods Market Web site. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/local
Published 2014. Accessed June 20, 2014.
2. Why Buy Local? 10 Reasons to Buy Local Food. Grow NYC Website.
http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/ourmarkets/whylocal
Published 2004. Accessed June 7, 2014.
3. Benefits of Locally Grown Produce. SuperKids Nutrition Web site.
http://www.superkidsnutrition.com/nutrition-articles/nutrition_answers/organic_food/benefits-locally-grown-produce/
Published 2013. Accessed June 7, 2014.
4. Local & Regional Food Systems. Sustainable Table Web site.
http://www.sustainabletable.org/254/local-regional-food-systems
Published 2014. Accessed June 6, 2014
5. Better Ways to Get Your Produce. Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Heart Letter. June 2010.
http://0-search.proquest.com.libus.csd.mu.edu/docview/1369840186/FB29FD781E6E4819PQ/1?accountid=100
6. Farmers’ Markets According to FoodLander Podcast. WGN Radio Web site. http://wgnradio.com/2014/05/24/farmers-markets-according-to-foodlander/
Published June 4, 2014. Accessed June 6, 2014.
7. Farmers’ Markets. Nutrition.gov’s Web Site.
http://www.nutrition.gov/farmers-markets

Last updated June 19, 2014. Accessed June 20, 2014.