Buying local produce supports local growers, small businesses, and the local economy. When buying food from a conventional grocery store, middlemen are required to help distribute produce and the farmers are left with very little profit to support themselves and their families. When shopping at the farmer’s market, your produce is coming directly from the source and you can form a personal relationship with the people who grow your food. At their stand you can ask them directly about the quality of the produce and growing conditions. Some growers allow you to visit their farm so you can get a better idea of where your food is coming from.
Why Buying Local Produce Has More Nutritional Value
Local produce provides the most nutritional value and value for your money. Food in conventional grocery stores is usually picked before it’s ripe and then travels for miles upon miles for long periods of time, before reaching the grocery store. The average produce at a conventional grocery store can have a shelf life of about a week. Since locally grown food doesn’t have to travel far, it stays fresher for longer, retains more of its nutrients, has a longer shelf life, and can have more flavor. Those who consume local produce are able to consume a higher level of nutrients than typical store-bought produce. Local produce generally travels no more than a few hours away from the markets and tends to be picked the week or day before it's brought to the market. You're also able to purchase produce that is freshly in season.
Environmental Cost of Conventional Produce
Local produce has a lower carbon footprint than conventional produce. Shorter travel times require less fossil fuel which reduces pollution and emits less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The consumption of local produce also reduces the amount of food waste including damaged and expired food from transportation and travel time. Store-bought food is also generally pre-packaged in plastic and other materials. Shopping at farmers markets can eliminate the excessive packing waste that we find at conventional grocery stores, especially when consumers come prepared with reusable bags and produce bags. While some growers still use plastic and rubber bands, you can always reuse them!