5 Reasons to Shop Local
Last month, we launched our #Take5forLocal campaign to celebrate and uplift our local food community. So far, nearly 150 of you have signed up to take 5 to support Boulder County Farmers Markets and the hundred-plus farmers, ranchers, and producers that we support.
While we’re only asking you to take 5, there are dozens of reasons why supporting local markets makes a difference. But we don’t want to bore you like we do those poor folks that get trapped making small talk with us at parties and make the mistake of asking what we do for work. Instead, we’ll keep our gushing to a minimum and just share our top 5 reasons to shop local.
Take 5 for Your Local Economy
Did you know that out of every dollar you spend on food at your local grocery store, roughly 80% doesn’t go to the farmers themselves? Regardless of where the apple, broccoli, or corn you choose is grown, it’s likely that the majority of costs contributing to its retail price are going towards transporting, storing, and marketing that food. Alternatively, when you buy directly from your farmer at our farmers markets, your dollars go right back to the people planting, growing, and harvesting the food. The same goes for our bakers, brewers, and chefs — meaning every dollar spent creates a positive ripple effect that spreads throughout our community.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
The health of our planet is critical to producing healthy food. When you shop local, you’re supporting farmers, ranchers, and producers who are committed to improving soil health, ethically raising livestock, and using our land and water resources wisely — because when the farmers’ focus goes beyond the bottom line, protecting our planet can rise to the forefront. Plus, when you shop locally, the carbon footprint of your food is infinitely smaller. The juicy tomato that you have big caprese plans for only traveled 10 miles from the Rocky Mountain Fresh greenhouses to the Boulder County Fairgrounds. But elsewhere, that same tomato (minus a ton of flavor) most likely came from California and had to travel over 1,000 miles to get to your dinner plate.
Know Who Grows Your Food
Taking 5 for Local is the easiest way to get on a first-name basis with your farmer — and who doesn’t want that? When you shop local, you get the opportunity to know the names, faces, and stories of the people behind our local food system. They’ll give you the best advice about how to prepare veggies and, if you beg hard enough, they might plant another plot of strawberries next year because they are your favorite. Plus uplifting small businesses and local farm owners is essential to supporting a future that recognizes and compensates the labor of our farmers. Large-scale industrial agriculture is notorious for mistreating workers through dangerous work conditions and unlivable wages. Our small-scale farmers care more about farming in a manner that creates sustainable relationships with the earth, customers, and staff than cutting corners to make a quick buck.
Connect with Your Community
Shopping at the farmers market is more than just a grocery run. It’s the perfect excuse to go for a stroll with an old friend and run into a new one, and once you’re at the markets, you have the chance to meet the local musicians, artists, and business owners who make our community vibrant. Plus, there’s always an opportunity to learn from local nonprofits, try out a yoga class, and do a craft project with your kiddo (or your inner-child).
And best of all, when you shop at our markets you are supporting our food access programs that allow members of our community with SNAP and WIC benefits to buy the highest quality food without breaking the bank.
Enjoy Every Bite
Last but far from least: local food really does just taste better. Local means fresh and fresh means delicious. When produce doesn’t have to travel across the country and sit on a shelf, it has more time to ripen and reach its full tasty potential. The same is true of the bakers and chefs that are baking and cooking the night before or the morning of the market. When you shop from the farmers market, you have access to a wide range of high-quality food and specialty ingredients to make each dish more flavorful and healthy.
Truth be told, you don’t have to purchase all of your groceries at the farmers market to make a difference. Whether you spend $5, purchase five new items, or support five vendors this season, every small action adds up to make a big difference.
Learn more about how you can #Take5forLocal by visiting bcfm.org/take-5. Our Saturday markets in Boulder and Longmont are bursting with fall’s bounty — visit us now through November 19 to make a difference for our local farmers.
This article originally appeared in the Daily Camera.