The Importance of Buying Locally
The Importance of Buying Locally
The movement toward local foods and crafts is growing as more and more as people realize the corruption and filth involved in many national industries. Plus, when you buy locally, you not only support your neighbors financially, but you build relationships with them that last. When is the last time you personally talked to the CEO of a large food producer? When you buy from small business owners, you can do this. Knowing your neighbors and seeing the products being produced gives you the assurance that what you're getting is top-notch and personalized to fit your individual needs.
Benefits to You and to Future Generations
Build Your Family's Health
Heavily processed foods pose a number of possible threats to your family's health: E. coli bacteria, pesiticide residue, and lack of nutrients included. When this food is produced on such a mass scale, attention to detail and healthy practices are not practical. However, you can find both of these qualities in most of your local growers and artisans. They want to provide you with the best possible product with the most benefits so that you will return the favor with your repeat business. They want you to return not because their product is cheaper by the dozen, but because it is of such high quality. Local artisans take pride in their work, and when people praise their products or are truly gratified by it, it pleases their soul. (Thus, you not only improve your health, you improve theirs, if indirectly.)
Thus, the local producer's focus on quality and satisfaction goes hand in hand with a healthier product overall. Many home-growers advertise the fact that they do not use pesticides, genetically modified crops, etc. Also, consider the fact that these farmers take their produce to market directly after picking them, meaning they are fresh and chalked full of nutrients. Compare this to normal grocery store produce, much of which has gone through harmful shipping processes before it lands on the store shelf (Source: University of Virginia). Buying genuinely fresh produce does imply seasonality (i.e., that certain crops are only available at certain times of the year - such as squash in the fall), but it is worth it for the nutritionally superior foodstuff you are getting.
An added bonus is taste. If you have grown your own produce, you know the difference in taste between your own home-grown produce and store-bought produce. There is simply no comparison. When you buy from local farmers, you will similarly be satisfied with the striking flavors of otherwise bland foods.
Build a Healthier Community
When you buy from local businesses and farms, you naturally boost your local economy. The more money that is kept within the community, the healthier it will become. Thus, you will eventually find yourself benefitting twice simply because you decided to buy locally made goods.
Plus, you will help local farming families to make a living off their land. Buying direct from a farmer's stand is much more profitable to both them and you than buying their produce (or foreign produce) off the shelves of a supermarket. After all of the middlemen and packaging, farmers get a very small amount of the proceeds that come from produce in the grocery store.
Also, the more you support your neighborhood entrepreneurs, the more you encourage them to expand and form new ideas. When you foster new entrepreneurs, you foster dreams and ideas that can become realities - sometimes groundbreaking ones.
Instead of buying produce that has been shipped thousands of miles, has been preserved, and has been genetically modified to transport easily, you can turn to the fresher and more nutritious alternative, local food. Research has found that during shipping, produce loses much of its nutritional qualities, while freshly picked fruits and vegetables from home retain their naturally delicious flavors and inherent nutritional value. Plus, by buying locally you promote our independence from petroleum. (Source: University of Florida).
Hold on to a Dying Heritage
If you find yourself reminiscing about the old days when family farms produced most of the food, and you knew where everything you ate came from, stop dreaming about it and start supporting your local family farms. They can be found in farmers markets, on roadsides, or even next door, and these people will appreciate your business. When you support these families, you support a tradition lasting generations as well as a hopeful future for agriculture - one that is not dominated by "corporate giants."
Depending on the grower, you will also likely be supporting the preservation of heirloom crop varieties, which are being steadily outnumbered by genetically modified crops.
Don't let healthy and personal grocery shopping and small farms be a thing of the past; lend your hand to those who are making the effort to grow organically and you will be rewarded both presently and in the future. Future generations will thank you for saving the remnants of the past for them.
The sheer range of possibilities with organic growing and crafting is truly inspiring, and you may find yourself wanting to make something on your own after visiting an organic farm or a market.
Chances are you have a unique talent and therefore can create a unique product. Don't be afraid to experiment! Once you get a technique down, take your products to the market to sell yourself - it is a worthwhile experience if nothing else. The sheer amount of wisdom and support you can gain from your fellow entrepreneurs in and of itself is very valuable.
In general, if you can genuinely and effectively address a common need or want in your community, you will have business. The sooner you start, the sooner you can turn a profit, become more independent, and benefit your community. So go it!
How to Support Local Craftsmen and Farmers
One simple way to support local farmers, growing, and craftsmen in your area is to visit your local farmers' market. Artisans and entrepreneurs in your region will greatly appreciate your business and will strive to give you the best quality goods so that you will come back. Farmers' markets can easily falter and fade away if not enough people in the community make the effort to support local businessmen and businesswomen. Don't let this happen to your community; show that you are interested in being a part of the local movement. Trust me, your local entrepreneurs will greatly appreciate it.
Farmers' markets are generally held each Saturday from early morning to early to mid afternoon, and sometimes it is held on other days of the week as well. Be sure to get to the farmers' market early if you can, since their hottest items often sell within the first hour or two (or even before it officially opens). Show your community's farmers that they are needed and appreciated.
If you are the adventuresome type, you may want to get involved in the farmers' market yourself. Depending on the regulations in the area you are in, you may need to apply ahead of time and commit to a space. In other places vendors are treated generally on a first-come, first-serve basis. No matter what you have a talent in - be it growing vegetables, baking cookies, making bracelets, telling stories, playing music - there is probably a customer base just waiting to be tapped at the farmers' market. Being involved is also by no means all about earning cash either - and, truth be told, there will be some off days. The most valuable part of being in a farmers' market is communicating and getting new ideas from the vendors around you. You can share your past knowledge, current problems, solutions, and visions. Who knows, you may even want to barter some items.
No matter how you decide to approach it, supporting your local farmers' market is an excellent way to show that you don't want to leave all production in the hands of a few huge, unapproachable companies.
Nature Labs can sometimes be found as a vendor at the Johnson County Farmers' Market in Mountain City, TN.
Support Restaurants and Stores that Carry Locally Made Products
If you know of a business, whether be a simple diner on main street, a trading post, or a general store, that sells locally produced food and crafts, buy the locally made products from them. When you buy from one of these vendors, you will also be helping the grower / craftsman who originally produced the product (although this is obviously more indirect than going to the farmers' market). The more of their product that is purchased, the more willing the vendor will be to continue buying it wholesale and selling it retail.
How do you find out if a store carries a local farmer's products? If the local producer you're interested in has a website, they may list the stores their products are in, or the stores themselves may boast of their locally produced merchandise. Better yet, ask the store manager.
Spread the Word
There is no advertising like word of mouth from a satisfied customer. Simply share your experience with organic food and other products with your friends, and, more than likely, they will at least try it out. Your recommendation will hold more credibility than a paid advertisement, and it is far more personal. In this way you can become an unofficial, part-time salesman for small farms and business in your community, encouraging them to grow and become more prosperous.
Although it might be a cleshay, there is power in numbers, and you can show that you are on the same page as organic farmers by becoming one. Doing so is not nearly as difficult as it may sound - it can even be done in an urban setting. For inspiration, you may wish to visit Polyface Farm, or simply read Joel Salatin's book You Can Farm. Although there are many aspects to consider, it is certainly feasible, and, within a matter of years, potentially very profitable.
In this way, you will show your community that the local, organic movement is growing, and it is not simply a rabble of old farmers. It is a living, breathing organism made up of families, entrepreneurs with dreams, inventors, innovators, and master artists. It is a return to the past to secure a better future, and it is very worthwhile to get involved.