As a growing movement across North America, locally grown food has countless benefits to offer, with more and more families making the choice to buy food from local producers, each for their own reason, such as finding comfort in knowing where their food comes from. This can help create important economic opportunities, reduce environmental impacts, and bring communities together.

What Kinds of Food Can You Buy Locally?

Locally grown food can include fruits and vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and even locally raised meats. Some producers may even offer specialty products like honey, nut butters, or canned foods. Often what you purchase from local producers will vary depending on the season, though some producers will grow certain foods year-round in a greenhouse. The foods you can purchase locally will vary depending on the climate and community you live in.

With increasing food prices, the demand for farm-fresh meats is growing. More people find comfort in buying meat from their local farmers and ranchers, whether it’s chicken, pork, beef, or even lamb. This is because most meat, when raised and butchered locally, is free from any hormones or preservatives, making the choice more appealing.

Bowl of tomatoes

Health Benefits of Locally Sourced Food

There are many benefits to buying and eating food that is grown within your neighborhood. Aside from helping the community, there are also several health benefits, such as:

  • Pesticide Free: Local food producers often choose to use organic or natural pest repellants to help preserve the health of the food they distribute, whereas foods produced by large-scale agricultural operations are often sprayed with harmful chemicals.
  • Preservative Free: Food that is sold in the same area it’s grown doesn’t need to travel long distances to get to its destination. For this reason, preservatives and other chemicals are not required to keep the product fresh.
  • Encourages a Well-Balanced Diet: When choosing to buy and eat locally, you can incorporate healthier proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet as opposed to processed and packaged foods that don’t provide a balanced diet.
  • Improves Food Safety: Food safety refers to the level of contamination risk associated with food, especially products that are imported. When purchasing locally sourced food, you greatly reduce the amount of hands the food goes through before it reaches your kitchen which, in turn, reduces the likelihood of contamination.

Environmental Benefits of Locally Grown Food

Purchasing locally produced food is not only good for you, but the environment as well. Some benefits for the environment are:

  • Protects Farmland: When community farms are established, this helps preserve farmland. Too often these days, good farmland is being taken over by new buildings and concrete. Additionally, farmland can attract other types of biodiversity and gives animals and insects places to live and thrive.
  • Reduces Food Miles: This is a term used to describe the distance food travels from origin point to consumer. Often, imported food can be shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to arrive at the supermarket. The more food miles accumulated during transportation; the more fossil fuels are consumed which leads to greater carbon emissions. Reducing food miles can greatly lower air pollution and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Promotes Accountability: When food is raised and grown locally, you have a better understanding of how and where your food comes from. This awareness from consumers can help keep producers more accountable and encourage them to use more sustainable agriculture practices.
Market purchase

Economic Benefits of Locally Produced Food

As mentioned, there are health and economic benefits to purchasing and eating locally produced food, but did you know there are also economical benefits? By buying food grown and raised locally, you can help support your local economy in the following ways:

  • Keeps Money in Your Community: By choosing to spend money on locally grown food, you are helping keep money in your community. Rather than supporting large chain supermarkets, opt to support individuals within your area.
  • Local Farmers Keep More Profit: Because producers in your community don’t have the same transportation and distribution costs as large agricultural businesses, they can retain more of the profit from their sales. This will help ensure small farming businesses stay successful.
  • It Creates Jobs: By supporting local food producers, you directly contribute to your community. The more people buy from these local businesses, the busier they’ll become, which leads to more demand for staff, thus creating more jobs within your neighborhood.

Choosing to purchase locally grown food is an important way to support your local economy, contribute to your community, improve your health, and do your part to protect the environment. By making even small purchases from your local shops and producers, your money and support will go a long way toward strengthening your community.