It seems like everywhere you turn these days companies are trying to “go green” and make their product “all natural”. And while I applaud the efforts that are being made, I feel that a lot of programs and a lot of green living advice goes undiscovered. As consumers we are lead to believe that reusable grocery bags, CFL’s, organic products, and hybrid cars are all there is to help make a better tomorrow. But one important factor that most people aren’t aware of is the value in choosing local farms and suppliers when we buy our groceries.
When you buy locally there are a few advantages. First, you cut back on the amount of pollution caused by transportation of the item. Many items we buy are shipped from all over the U.S. and the rest of the world through various forms of transportation. Local products do not travel as far, if at all, and therefore do not have the same impact that a national supplier may have. Buying locally also helps stimulate your local economy. You are contributing to jobs and the welfare of people who live in your community. And finally, in the case of produce, you get a fresher product. If a fruit or vegetable doesn’t have to be trucked across the country it’s going to be a lot fresher when you get it.
How Can I Find Local Products?
There are a few ways to find out what’s available in your area. First, and probably the easiest, would be to check with your local grocery store. See if they know if any of their products or produce are from a local farm or vendor. Another option would be to go to a grocer that you know specializes in holistic living or local farming. Henry’s Farmers Market, which is the store I frequent, actually labels local products and produce. In fact the chain has devoted itself to helping support local growers and suppliers. Another grocer, Whole Foods Market has become a very big name in the holistic community and offers a number of organic and sometimes local products.
Another way is to support local growers and suppliers directly through farmers markets. Farmers Markets are often held on a regular basis in communities and they are a direct connection between farmers and the public. They are great way to not only get fresh produce, but another great way to support your local community and the environment.
Community Supported Agriculture
But perhaps the most interesting way of supporting local growers and suppliers is through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA allows people to invest in small farms through a subscription or membership and in turn they receive a weekly or monthly delivery of produce, flowers, fruits, eggs, milk, meats, or any sort of different farm products. Again this provides you with fresher food since it comes straight from the farm. You also save a substantial amount of money on produce because you remove the middle man from the business. You pay the farm directly and don’t deal with the price hike you see at grocery stores. Finally you decrease your impact on the planet. Smaller local farms tend to use fewer chemicals on their crops and often use organic farming practices. They also grow a smaller amount of crops because they have a more predictable number of consumers to sell to, which cuts back on packaging and on wasted crops.
For more information on farmers markets in your area and Community Supported Agriculture, visit LocalHarvest.org. There you can search for farms and farmers markets in your area. You can also get more information on Community Supported Agriculture and farms in your area that you can help support.