Sunday visits to the local farmers markets are routine for a lot of us. But it’s more than just a lovely way to spend your morning, out in the fresh air, stocking up on your fresh fruit and veggies – coffee and reusable bags in hand. Shopping locally from local producers has a number of benefits on top of the feel good factor of being involved with your local community.
Here are 5 reasons to buy local (and 1 new way to do it)!
Respect for Seasonality
It doesn’t seem right that we should be eating watermelons in winter or Brussel sprouts in summer, yet if you walk into a supermarket chances are you’ll have these options year round. However, the cost to the consumer as well as the environment are huge due to the food mileage. Demanding these foods means we need to import foods from other countries to serve our wants, which drives the price up and increases our carbon foot print. When we shop locally we are also respecting the seasonal nature of food and therefore eat according to what is being harvested.
It Tastes Better
A lot of food in the supermarkets, including imported, has been purchased in bulk and therefore needs to be stored until the food on display is bought. That often means fresh food is frozen until ready for sale. This changes the taste and freshness of the food, in comparison to locally purchased food that does not spend time in transit/shipping to ripen. Instead, food purchased at local farmers markets are likely to have been picked in the last couple of days.
Support the Future of Farmers
Farmers don’t necessarily choose the profession for the money they make, but for the love of the job and respect for the product or process. Farmers are always up against the elements, whether that be a shaky economy, drought, excessive rain etc. their future is always in the hands of external factors. They’re also negotiating with large supermarket chains which can lead to them only receiving a small portion of the sale of their products. The more we’re able to buy direct, the less overheads and uncertainty they face. Which means they can invest more into their future.
It’s More Sustainable
Food suppliers may have chains they sell to, however the power lies with the buyer and this may mean some fresh food goes to waste. The Government estimates food waste in Australia to cost the economy $20 billion each year. Initiatives such as selling “imperfect picks” and organisations like Oz Harvest redistributing unwanted food help solve this issue however, purchasing local means that fresh produce is sold on a smaller scale with less risk of waste. Purchasing online also means that excess food can be purchased through another medium.
Get to Know your Food
Going to farmer’s markets always feels like you’re connecting with nature and learning more about the food you cook with. Often the farmers who have picked the produce a couple of days ago will tell you what the harvest has been like, what tastes especially good at the moment and how you could cook the food you purchase. This feels like a food masterclass that you can only receive when you engage with those who have been part of the farming process.
Did You Know – Farmers Markets Are Going Social!
As much as we love our local markets, they’re not for everyone. Whether it be access, convenience or limitation of the product available in you area. However this is beginning to change with the rise of social marketplaces such as Oomami. This is an online platform where consumers can connect directly to food suppliers and purchase food, cutting out the middleman. This way food suppliers reap the rewards they sew, so to speak. We can also feel good about supporting farmers and knowing exactly where their food comes from!