By standard definition, prosperity brings up the ideas of opulence, ease, and comfort. But what does it really mean to us in modern times? Better health begins with ourselves, but it eventually involves community. Updating our belief system on how we feed our bodies and the impact it makes on the biosphere can unfold into a beautiful journey of self-awareness, social responsibility, and solidarity. What if simply eating local was a key instrument in stringing together the pieces to a more prosperous life? Let’s grab our (reusable) grocery bags and dive into 10 advantages of buying local and how it can help to change our inner and outer world.
1. Buying local increases community health
According to the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society, researchers who studied 3,060 counties and parishes in the U.S found that counties with a higher volume of local businesses actually had a lower rate of mortality, obesity, and diabetes. It’s simple: eating foods that are unadulterated with pesticides like organic fruits and vegetables, or free from hormone disrupting compounds like grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs and dairy, contribute to a huge upgrade in the Standard American Diet (SAD.)
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2. Buying local promotes agriculture
Buying local, raw honey is a particularly powerful way to boost your personal health and support the bee population. Besides helping to knockout allergies, buying honey from a nearby beekeeper promotes agriculture. In fact, about one-third of the food we eat relies on bees for pollination.
3. Buying local promotes more local wealth
Buying local reaches beyond better health practices and actually promotes local wealth and jobs. This Chicago study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city compared to only $43 of each $100 at a chain retailer.
4. Buying local reduces the use of fossil fuels
Buying from local vendors means the product has less travel time from the farm to your table. All of the energy that is used to transport food via planes, trains, trucks, and ships contributes to global warming and unhealthy air quality. With the release of almost 250,000 tons of global warming gases attributed to the imports of food products, it’s no wonder that purchasing foods from your local farmer’s market could make a world of difference in limiting the use of fossil fuels.
5. Buying local utilizes less plastic
The rate of plastic being used at such a constant pace is circulating pandemonium beyond the endocrine disrupters lining our water bottles. In fact, a whopping 91% of plastic isn’t even recycled which explains why 8 million metric tons of it ends up in our oceans every year. Buying local goods actually reinforces the action of BYOB (bringing your own bag) to the farmer’s market.
6. Buying local uses land more productively
The average “megastore” consumes disturbing quantities of land for commercial use. In fact, the land used for such superstores is around 15 acres because of the buildings and parking lots. The environmental detriment due to this land useage has lead to issues like increased water run-off (contaminated by oils), lowered water tables, and reduction of animal habitats. Most local merchants use land more productively and occupy existing structures. Rather than tearing up land to make profit, shopping local means a vote for the farmers and their land.
7. Buying local means less risk for food contamination
Sadly, large industrial settings often breed risk to foodborne illness. From E.coli outbreaks in bagged spinach, to salmonella contaminated almond butters, mass produced foods possess a greater threat to becoming tainted. Food from your local farmers market is fresher and usually safer. At the very most, you will want to rinse off the dirt that accumulates on your veggies.
8. Eating local (and seasonal) means more nutrient density
Buying foods according to their best fit season is a huge tip to achieve ultimate nutrient density. Because of mass farming tactics, foods that are not locally grown (and in season) are available to eat year-round. But does that mean they are just as healthy? Absolutely not. In fact, researches in Japan found a threefold differences in the vitamin C of spinach harvested in summer as opposed to winter.
9. Buying local creates connections to people and planet
Staying engaged with your local farms and businesses means a greater sense of community. Having a sense of connection with people creates lasting friendships and also holds such communities accountable for their actions. Getting to visit the farms that grow our foods and physically touch the land goes beyond physical health and nature connects us with the core of humanity.
10. Eating local means plentiful probiotic produce
Fruits and vegetables that were grown in their native, nutrient dense soils are rich in probiotics. Not only that, locally grown produce that has not been scrubbed off and sanitized still contains soil based organisms which support gut health and immune response. Purchasing a bunch of organically grown carrots at your local farmer’s market is a great way to get your daily intake of “dirt”.
Let’s live up to our values.
Now that we have the straight facts as to why buying local can improve our physical and planetary health, let’s take this information and share it with the world. The micro-decisions we make daily affect our short-term and long-term goals alike.