The concept of buying local is simply to buy food (or any good or service) produced, grown, or raised as close to your home as possible. With industrialization, our food is now grown and processed in fewer locations, meaning it has to travel further to reach the average consumer's kitchen. Although this method of production is considered efficient and economically profitable for large agribusiness corporations, it is truly harmful to the environment, consumers, and rural communities.
Did You Know?
A typical carrot travels 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table.
In the U.S. a wheat farmer can expect to receive about six cents of each dollar spent on a loaf of bread, approximately the cost of the wrapping.
Farmers markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.
About 1/3 of all U.S. farms are located within metropolitan areas, comprising 18% of the total U.S. farmland.
Only 3.5 cents of each dollar spent in your typical grocery store actually goes to the farmer. If you buy food directly from farmers you can be sure that most, if not all, of your money goes directly to the farmer. When you purchase local at your co-op, over half your purchase goes to the farmer.
Small farmers reinvest more money in to local economies by purchasing feed, seed, and other materials from local businesses.
Food Miles, Resources, and the Environment
"Food miles" refer to the distance a food item travels from the farm to your home.
So how does our food travel from farm field to grocery store?
A tremendous amount of fossil fuel is used to transport foods such long distances. Food processors use a large amount of paper and plastic packaging to keep food fresh (or at least looking fresh) for a longer period of time. This packaging eventually becomes waste that is difficult, if not impossible to recycle.
Industrial farms are often major sources of air and water pollution. Small, local farms are often run by farmers who live on their land and work hard to preserve it. Buying local means you can talk directly to the farmer growing your food to find out what they do and how they do it.
Health and Nutrition
Food transported short distances is fresher and safer than food that travels long distances. Local food has less of an opportunity to wilt and rot, requires minimal processing, are produced in relatively small quantities, and are distributed within a few dozen miles of where they originate.
Family Farms and Community
According to the USDA, the U.S. has lost over five million family farms since 1935. Family farms are going out of business at breakneck speed, causing rural communities to deteriorate.
The U.S. loses two acres of farmland each minute as cities and suburbs spread into the surrounding communities.
What You Can Do