Author: Romina Rooney • Date: June 20, 2016 • Appears in:
Buying Local? Top 3 Reasons You're Not...And Why You're Missing Out
It’s that time of year again - days filled with the sun shining and lounging at the beach, hot nights, and BBQs with delicious food shared with friends and family. It's summer, and the living is easy.
And doesn’t food in summer taste so much better? There is just something about all the colors and tastes during this season, my taste buds explode with flavour when I sink my teeth in some sweet and juicy watermelon and when I crunch on crispy lettuce in my salads. And perhaps this has something to do with my choice to eat local produce when the growing season is in swing - food from one's own backyard is simply the best.
Now we all hear about how buying local food is a good thing and I don’t think anyone can argue that picking cherries right from a tree and having all that flavour come alive compares to eating something that has travelled hundreds of miles to your plate. And yet for many, supporting local and buying from local growers isn’t something they are doing. Here are the top 3 reasons the average person isn’t buying local just yet, and why they should!
Reason #1: It's Not Cheap
Many people believe buying local is more expensive. But previous price surges in produce, like this $8 head of cauliflower was a big wake up call regarding imported food costs (in this case, the cauliflower was from drought stricken California). We hear about the different benefits of eating local but seeking out seasonally, locally-produced food isn’t just a trend - it can save consumers money since local food isn’t subject to dollar fluctuations. And let’s say you are buying your cucumbers from your local farmers’ market - you pay less because it’s straight from the farmer, who saves not having to divvy their profits between packers, transporters, corporate and store employees the way chain supermarkets do.
Reason #2: It's Just A Fad
Like with anything trendy, being a “locavore” can be seen as a fad and met with skepticism by those who question the importance of eating local. However, eating local has big impacts both short and long term. It creates food security by supporting local farmers. Studies show that the average age of the American farmer is 57 and only 5% are between the ages of 25 and 35. By supporting local farmers and creating demand for future farmers, we are investing in locally produced goods for generations to come. Multinational commercial enterprises look to squeeze every dollar out of one type of crop, but our demand for local food increases crop varieties and promotes biodiversity. This happens when farmers run community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, sell at farmers’ markets and supply local restaurants that require more varieties of produce and livestock. Not only is this good for our health, it is good for our environment.
Reason #3: It's Incovenient
Another big drawback many associate with buying their food local is that it’s not very convenient. Farmers’ Markets typically run only once a week and outside of the growing season, people have to be a bit more creative to continue to eat local. Going to the nearest grocery store and buying whatever produce is stocked seems much simpler. According to this study convenience plays a huge role on how we make food choices, evident with the numerous drive-throughs, microwave dinners, take-out meals, home delivery for groceries, etc. that exist. However, there are many different ways to make buying local convenient for the average person. Signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group and/or using food deliveries and directories connecting you to local growers, buying in bulk and preserving, and eating seasonally are all ways to make buying local an easier choice.
So if you're not looking and determining where your food is coming from just yet, consider these three myths about local food and make it a goal this summer to purchase as much of your food locally, as possible!