Photo by MattSkalAt the heart of our market thinking is the idea that consumers will always act in their economic self interest, and will always procure goods from the lowest cost producer. In our current world, that can leave our local economy in shambles.
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Although we can put up protectionist trade barriers and cry foul over working conditions and lax environmental regulations in our competitors lands, the reality is that this is how we like it. The free hand of the market is working great. It is in our best interest to get cheaper goods, and voila, we are awash with cheap stuff.
- From "Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy " by Lyle Estill
Surely food must be at the very heart of sustainable living. What we eat, how we produce our food and where we get it from affects ourselves, the environment and our communities. Our food choices affect everything from deforestation in the Amazon, to the accumulation of fast-food litter in our streets, to our individual health and wellbeing. And it isn't just the food itself we need to think about, but how it is transported, packaged, prepared, and sold. When you take all that into consideration, the true cost of your groceries could be well above the price you pay at the supermarket.
Here's just a few reasons why going out of your way to eat local is worth doing:
- It tastes better
What could possibly be more delicious than freshly picked fruit and vegetables? When you buy locally you know that your produce hasn't been sitting in a warehouse for months or endured kilometres of travel to reach you.
- Its healthier
Food produced locally is fresher, more nutritious, less likely to contain additives and preservatives. Not only that, but you can make sure you are buying food that isn't grown using unhealthy chemicals that also damage the environment.
- It helps you stay in touch with the seasons
Believe it or not apples don't grow all year round, strawberries only grow in summer, and leeks are best in the late autumn and early spring (at least where I come from they are!). Eating local food helps keep you in tune with nature's cycles.
- It helps you support your local economy
By buying from local producers you keep your money in your community longer. You create local jobs and a stronger sense of community.
- It helps you get to know your neighbours
Buying local helps you get to know your neighbours, and your neighbourhood. You get to experience new flavours, meet new people, and see new places.