Written by Kelsey Riley
We often hear about local produce and are often encouraged to buy locally as often as possible, but do we understand why or how we can do this? Let’s go over the importance of local produce and how it can help our local farmers, lower prices for consumers, and help you get the freshest possible produce!
Helping Our Local Farmers
Our local farmers benefit greatly when we shop locally. When farmers’ produce is purchased through large corporate grocery stores, they lose a cut of their profits. Usually, a portion goes to pay for mass sorting and cleaning of produce, transportation and storage, and then all of the costs and fees of being sold by the large grocery store chains.
Farmers are able to directly benefit from local consumers because their produce is passed through fewer hands and processes to get to you. They are then able to turn around and take the money they are saving on those costs to support their families, run their farms, hire and support staff, and so much more!
There are tons of financial benefits that come along with shopping locally, especially when it comes to purchasing your fresh fruits and veggies.
When you buy locally sourced produce, you’re keeping money in your very own community. This is significant because you know exactly who’s pockets that money is going into. It can create jobs for more individuals in your community. This might be at the farm that’s growing your food, staff at a local farmer’s market, transportation staff bringing the produce from the farm to wherever it's being sold, or at the local market selling the produce.
This also helps you, the consumer, to obtain lower prices on the produce. This is because the goods you’re buying are so close to home that you’re often cutting out several corporate “middlemen” including large grocery corporations. This saves the farmers many different costs, fees, and overall expenses, which helps bring the price of their goods down. It’s a win-win situation with more money going to the farmer, and less coming out of your pocket.
The Freshest Produce
It only makes sense that the closer to home your fruits and vegetables are being grown, the fresher they will be when they make their way onto your kitchen table.
Produce at large chain grocery stores is known to be sourced from anywhere in the state, country, or even around the world. Local farmers are often able to harvest and sell their products within a day or two, which enables you to enjoy these foods at their peak flavour, and freshness, and get the most nutrients from them as possible. Each day that food is spent in transit to and from a large corporate grocer to your kitchen table, it gets less fresh and loses the above benefits.
How To Source Local Produce
There are many different ways that you can find and get in touch with your local farmers. Below are some of the most popular ways to shop for local produce:
Buy directly from the farm: Some farms have a store or program set up where you can shop right from the farm itself! Whether it’s a “pick your own” farm or they have a small storefront, buying directly from them is the cheapest and freshest option.
Roadside farm stands: Depending on the community you live in, some farmers set up small farm stands on the side of the road for easy access for the consumers. Simply pull over when you’re out and about to browse their selection.
Farmer’s markets: Many communities have farmer’s markets (seasonally dependent) where local farms can set up an area to sell their good directly to you. If you’re unaware of if your community has farmer’s markets, check out your town website as well as surrounding towns and cities.
CSA programs: Community Supported Agriculture programs (also called CSA programs) are common for local farms. These are programs that you typically sign up for in advance and pay a certain portion of your costs/fees for the produce up front, and some along the way. This allows for the farmers to plant, tend to, and harvest their crops. You’ll then have a schedule of when you can pick up your produce along the way.
Local grocery stores: Most grocery stores will have certain sections or signs around the produce section alerting shoppers to which product has been locally sourced. If you aren’t familiar with this in your grocery stores, I encourage you to ask a grocery store employee to find out which produce is local.
Shopping Local Is Better For Everyone
Though some of the above programs and ways to source local produce may change through the seasons, I encourage you to reach out to local farmers to see how and when you can help support them. It’s a win-win for all of us!