Prioritizing purchasing decisions within our ever-changing marketplace involves a series of decisions. One decision-making element is where your food comes from. A majority of food eaten in the US now travels a complicated road from farm to plate, often originating thousands of miles away. The average consumer ignores the where and often buys based on price and desire. So today, let’s try to better understand why you should buy local and what benefits accompany these purchases.

Buying local significantly cuts down on the travel time of food. Since fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients as soon as they are picked, the local seasonal result is fresher, more nutritious and delicious produce. Admittedly, this can limit your choices due to weather and growing regions, but by eating seasonally, you avoid fruits and vegetables that have been artificially ripened using gases and ensure that you are not stuck with food with bland flavors.

The negative environmental impacts of the industrial food system are the result of the production, processing, transportation, and packaging of food. Small farms sell their food directly to you, the consumer, or distribute it locally, greatly reducing the number of miles food travels.  By choosing to buy local foods, you are limiting waste, leaving a lower carbon footprint, and supporting a change in farming practices.

Making a local purchase means that money stays in the community, supporting both your local farmers and local economy. Not to mention that many times at the farmers market you are socializing, getting to know the farmer, and truly building a sense of community.

As you’ve learned in this three-part series (organic, non-GMO, local), modifications in food purchases can significantly alter both your health and the current industrial agricultural system. As consumers, we can no longer accept foods that are made with genetically modified seeds, sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, and whose cultivation required vast amounts of fossil fuels to reach your plate. Eventually, such food will be pushed out of the marketplace and organic sustainable food will become the norm. Already the US has seen a growth in both the organic marketplace and the number of farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) projects based on a consumer driven movement for more organic local products. Let’s continue to build momentum to further this trend.

References:

  1. http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1570&context=wmelpr
  2. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=2693&context=extension_curall
  3. McKibben, B. Eaarth. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010.