The Benefits of Shopping Small and Supporting Local Producers
If you walk the aisles of one of the ‘Big 4’ supermarkets, you will nowadays see something that was barely visible 15, 20 years ago - valuable shelf space given over to, and clearly branded as, local produce.
The big supermarkets have tapped into a growing trend amongst consumers - people are increasingly aware of the provenance of their food and want the option to buy high quality food and drink produced locally.
While it is all well and good being spoilt for choice with goods sourced from all over the world, the globalisation of the food trade raises important questions that more and more people are considering when they buy. Questions like:
- What is the impact on the environment from shipping huge quantities of food stuffs around the world compared to relying on locally grown produce?
- What are the ethical implications of enormously stretched food supply chains? How can I be sure that the food I buy is produced in a sustainable way, with the producers receiving a fair price?
- What effect do the processes used to keep fresh produce fresh during long transits have on quality and, perhaps, on my health?
- If I am spending money buying goods that are predominantly produced abroad, what impact is this having on my local economy?
Why buying local makes sense
Buying local makes sense for all of these reasons. Anything grown or reared down the road will have much lower ‘food miles’ than produce shipped from overseas, which immediately benefits its carbon footprint. When you know where your food comes from, you can be much more certain about how it is has been produced and you know that your money is being invested in your local economy.
Especially for fresh food, local produce arrives on your table in a much more appetising, natural state, which is better both for taste and for health. And overall, as local suppliers tend to be small operators using traditional methods, as opposed to those used in large-scale industrial farming, local produce is closely associated with premium quality, and often with organic too.
These are all reasons why supermarkets are now jumping on the local bandwagon. But if you want our advice, if you really want to support the small producers in your community, don’t go to the supermarket - go straight to the source. Small suppliers have to fight tooth and nail over supermarket listings, only a tiny number are ever successful and those that are often don’t get very favourable payment terms.
For a better selection and to be sure your money is going straight to those who work hardest to produce your food, you can’t beat your local farm shop, market or artisan retailer.