Are you a locavore? If you’re shopping your local farmer’s market for fresh produce, dairy, or meat products on a regular basis, then you may very well be one! A locavore is a person who maintains a diet of primarily locally sourced foods. Locavores understand the benefit; buy local, for their body, their community, and the environment.
While there is no standard for what constitutes “local” food, some consumers consider food grown within 400 miles to be local. Others believe local food needs to produced within 100 miles, while others feel that “local” means from within their state. No matter the definition, if you’re shopping your neighborhood farmer’s market, you’re reaping the benefit; buy fresh, buy local.
Locally Sourced Food Tastes Better
When crops are sold locally and don’t have to travel as far to the final purchase destination, they are allowed to ripen in the field longer. Fruits and vegetables that are picked at their peak, instead of left to ripen as they travel, offer the best flavor. So, there’s a tasty advantage to your local produce.
Buy Fresh, Local Produce & Be Healthier
Fruits and vegetables grown across the country or internationally go through a lot between harvest and purchase, traveling on trucks or planes and sitting in warehouses. During all that time, your food is losing the valuable nutrients that it can offer. When fresh foods spend less time between farm and table, fewer nutrients are lost. So, buy local and obtain healthier sustenance for your family.
You Keep Your Money Local if You Buy Local
This fact is often quoted when discussing the benefits of shopping local: For every $100 you spend at a locally owned business, $68 will stay in your community; while spending $100 at a national chain only puts $43 into your local community. More recent research has shown that local retailers return an average of 52% of their revenue to the local economy, compared with just 14% from chain retailers.
Additionally, buying local can help keep your own taxes down. American Farmland Trust studies have shown that farms contribute more to local taxes than residential or commercial properties while requiring fewer local services.
Buy Local = Helping Your Environment
Whether you classify “local” produce as traveling less than 100 miles or coming from your home state, on the opposite end of the spectrum, conventional produce can travel upwards of 1,500 miles from the farm to your table. This extensive travel can create 5-17x more carbon dioxide (CO2) than local foods. CO2 is one of the greenhouse gas emissions that contributes to climate change.
While not all locally sourced food you purchase at your farmer’s market is guaranteed to be organic, choosing local produce that is grown using organic methods also supports a reduction in greenhouse gases.
Locally Sourced Food Preserves Farmlands
In the U.S., more than 40 acres of farm or ranch land is developed every hour. However, when local farmers have a reliable and profitable market for their products, they’re less likely to sell their farmland for development. Protecting local farmland also maintains open spaces, reduces urban sprawl, preserves a natural ecosystem, and supports biodiversity (a variety of life).