We live in a world that is finally becoming more environmentally aware. More and more of us are realising that we need to do more to protect the world we live in and buying local is a great way that we can do that. Lucky for us, there are a great many other benefits to us as individuals.
Let’s take vegetables as an example. When you buy local, you are receiving the freshest possible produce. Food that has travelled sometimes thousands of miles is at least a few days older. Sugars turn to starches and plant cells shrink meaning your groceries lose their flavour. Local food is also more nutritious as vegetables quickly start to lose their nutrients after they are picked. You also get a much wider variety with locally grown produce. Large commercial farms grow a relatively small selection of fruits and vegetables as they choose the ones that are more hardy and can therefore tolerate the system of harvesting, packing, shipping and storage. Whereas local farms grow a wide selection as it extends their growing season. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll enjoy building relationships with the people that grow your food, whilst developing an understanding of the process and passing that knowledge and appreciation on to future generations.
The benefits of buying local to the environment are vast, and each and every one of us stands to benefit from a cleaner, longer lasting earth. Local produce does not require packaging which means it doesn’t end up in land fill. The sheer volume of waste that we produce means that current landfill sites are approaching capacity and I can’t think of anyone that wants a new one built near their home! On average, food that is mass produced travels 1500 miles, primarily by air or truck. The damage this causes to the environment is massive. Petroleum in a non-renewable energy source, and it also produces carbon dioxide when it is burned which causes global warming. Global warming is the single most terrifying threat that there is to mankind. So by buying local, you reduce the need for petrol use. If everybody did that, we really could save the planet.
These benefits are not only limited to vegetable buying. Every single product that you ever buy, you’re better off going to a local, independently owned business. You help to support your community by strengthening its economic base and keeping it unique. One of a kind businesses are an integral part of what gives a community its character. Who wants to go somewhere that looks and feels exactly like everywhere else? Local businesses are generally owned by people who live there. They are therefore less likely to leave and more invested in the future of their community. Statistics show that they offer 250% more support to non-profit organisations than nationally owned businesses do, so by buying from them you are also supporting community groups. Collectively, they are the largest employer nationally to local residents and usually offer a better service, by employing people that are more knowledgeable about what they are selling. They take more time to get to know their customers. Small businesses care about what they do, they do not exist solely for the purposes of profit. And let us not forget that buying local, whatever the product may be, still offers massive benefits to the environment because it requires less transportation which generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
For me personally, one of the best things about buying local is being able to own something that is more unique to me. I recently bought a beautiful piece of rustic oak furniture from a local supplier and I just love the fact that nobody else I know owns anything like it. I don’t want to walk into my friend’s living room and find we’ve gone and bought the exact same mass produced furniture set. I am an individual and I want my purchases to reflect that. I want to buy what I want and not what somebody else wants me to buy. Thinking and buying local as a way of life and as a society is the best way to ensure a wide variety of products continues to exist. It will also ensure low prices over the long term. A horde of small businesses that each select their products based on their own interests and the needs of their customers and not on a national sales plan, guarantees a much wider range of product choices.
So please, I implore you, before you make your next purchase, think and explore whether you might be able to source it locally. The benefits are endless and I’m certain you won’t regret it.