By Sara Taslim, Guest Blogger — Buying local not only helps out local farmers and businesses, but is also healthier for you, the Lake Simcoe community, and the environment.
A survey done in 2015 by LoyaltyOne says that 87 percent of consumers surveyed said they are willing to pay more to buy locally produced food if it was more readily available.
Locally grown foods and produce are fresher and fuller in flavour. Local farmers' markets tend to sell fresher produce that has been picked usually no more than 24 hours before it is sold.
Since local markets always bring in fruits and vegetables that are in season, it guarantees that their flavour is enhanced and fresh. As well as freshness, local farmers allow produce a longer time to ripen, and the produce is often in better condition due to the lack of overseas shipping.
Fruits and vegetables are at their most nutritious stage when they are ripe, but begin to lose nutrition the moment they are picked. Since locally grown plants do not travel long and far to get to your local store, their nutrition value will be higher compared to produce that is imported from across the world.
On the other hand, big chain supermarkets often store their produce for days or even weeks, which can cause loss in freshness, flavour and nutrients.
Foods that are imported and travel long distances also have higher "food miles" associated with them. Buying and supporting local products helps with conserving energy and lessening the food miles on what we eat.
The concept of “food miles” is the calculation of how much food travels to reach our tables. This way we can measure how much of an impact it has on the environment, or how much fuel and energy has been used.
A study from McMaster University says Ontario imports about twice as much as it exports. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association says that 80 percent of Canada’s fresh produce is imported, a large amount of it coming in from the US.
Buying local food is advancing towards the future.
Industrializing and transporting food using fossil fuels is not only polluting the environment, but is also bad for the environment. As fossil fuels become more expensive, the cost of food will gradually increase. Buying local will work towards creating a better future and a more affordable food market.
Buying and eating foods from a local shop or farm helps promote the 100-mile diet, which reduces your carbon footprint. The 100-mile diet is a way to support local farmers by buying seasonal foods grown or produced within a 100-mile radius of your table. Trying out this diet, even occasionally, can lead to a smaller economic footprint, a healthier lifestyle, and more awareness about the foods you eat.
Spending Money in the Community
Supporting local businesses is better for the economy of the community, as it brings control back in the hands of the inhabitants.
Michael H. Shuman, an expert on economic development grounded in local small business, argues that supporting local businesses gives the community more control and improves the economy. Spending money in the community is investing towards its growth, which is beneficial for everyone, he says.
According to Civic Economics, research shows that about 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated into the community, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.
As more money is invested in local businesses, more hiring opportunities are created throughout a community. Small local businesses are known to be great providers of jobs for many inhabitants of the community.
Buying from local business not only gives for a better product outcome, but also for a better shopping experience.
Not only will the shop be close to home, but the experience can give you a chance to bond with local businesspeople and learn more about their stories. There is a much higher chance that local business owners are more passionate about true customer satisfaction and putting in the extra effort to make sure customers are happy.
The advancement of local businesses can also be beneficial for the community in the sense that it helps build community identity. These local shops can develop into locations where people in the community can meet up and interact with each other, hold events and clubs, and boost community spirit.
Since local businesses work within the community, they will know more about the needs of their customers compared to big brand companies. They can produce and sell products according to recommendations of customers, which can make both parties happier. Compared to big brand chain stores, local business representatives hold most of the decision-making, so they are much more personally concerned about customers and keeping connections.
Local businesses are known to be better with employment and keeping their employees than chain brand businesses. An American Economic Review study during the recession of 2008 to 2009 shows that the employment growth rate of larger employers decreased around 1.6% more than the rate of local employers.
Keeping money circulating within a community makes the community more financially strong and stable. Buying locally made products is also important because it means that workers who made this product were treated fairly. If we support a product made in Canada we know that the workers were in safe and sanitary conditions, so we are promoting the importance of labour rights and standards.
Sara Taslim is a Grade 11 student at Richmond Hill High School. As part of her co-op program, she is working as an intern at Lake Simcoe Living. She plans to study law after high school.