Supermarkets often display a large selection of produce and since the farms that supply those markets are often not in the local area, selling to the store in bulk so the fruits and vegetables can be sold at a low price it might not be readily apparent why it is best to buy locally grown produce. However, there are a large number of good reasons to purchase locally. It is quite worth the time and effort to consider the reasons.
Freshness of Produce
Even with modern shipping methods, if produce must be shipped hundreds of miles or more, it is likely that the fruits and vegetables will arrive many days after they were harvested. Many home gardeners attest to the fact that as soon as a fruit or vegetable is reaped, it begins to break down. The longer it takes to get to the consumer’s table, the less fresh it is. This often means that the food isn’t as flavorful as it should be. What is more, it isn’t unusual for the produce items to be picked while they are under ripe, so they still look good when they reach the market.
These negatives are largely nonexistent if the produce is local. Since the food doesn’t need to be shipped great distances, it can be harvested near the peak of maturity and won’t have a lot of time to degrade before it is sold to the public. This means that the flavor tends to be more robust and wonderful.
Purchasing produce that has been grown locally is a natural boost to the local economy. Most of the expenses for the operation of a local farm are probably local in nature, but it goes beyond this. The people who work at the farm probably spend a large amount of their money in the area in which they work and those people are often from the area. Supporting the farm by buying locally means that it is likely that a person is putting money right back in to the local economy. Ultimately, this can increase local jobs and allow for economic growth in the area. There is little reason to spend money on produce that came from hundreds of miles away, which doesn’t help locally, when there is a reasonable alternative. It should also be noted that smaller farms are often struggling to compete against giant ‘super-farms’.
Healthfulness of the Food
Local farms, especially smaller ones, are less apt to use the harsh chemicals that huge farms often use, especially if the community makes it plain that they prefer organically grown foods to those that have been so over-sprayed that they taste similar to eating a can of mosquito repellent. While overstated, this, alone, makes the produce safer and tastier for consumption. Many chemicals can be absorbed by the produce, so rinsing them well doesn’t remove the pesticides and other chemicals. In addition, the amount of vitamins and minerals in vegetables and fruits that are shipped also tend to lessen as the items age. This all adds up to meaning that local produce is often healthier than the alternatives.
It would seem that produce that is farmed on enormous plots of land for shipment all over the region or country would always be less expensive than that which is grown locally on smaller farms. That is the general idea behind farming in that way, after all. However, the food isn’t always cheaper than the local produce. Many things can play into price differences. For instance, if a 2000 acre lettuce farm is located in a drought-stricken area, the lettuce grown there could be substantially higher in price than lettuce grown locally in an area that has had a good water-year. In addition, not all produce lends itself well for shipping. Prices can thus be lower for local produce of that sort, which don’t require expensive methods of shipment, when the vegetables and fruits are grown, sold and purchased locally.
There are many great reasons to buy produce locally, whenever possible. The fruits and vegetables are usually fresher, the money helps the local economy, the food is often healthier and the prices can occasionally be surprisingly less expensive than for food that isn’t local. These are only a few of the many reasons. Indeed, it is part of the idea behind local farmers’ markets. It might sometimes be more convenient to purchase the produce in large supermarkets, knowing that much of the produce has been shipped from substantial distances, however it is normally worth the small amount of extra effort to buy locally grown foods.