Purchasing Locally Grown Food
Simple Steps to Get You Started:
- Use a Reusable Shopping Bag
- Locate Your Nearest Farmer's Market
- Learn About the Seasonal Availability of Local Fruits & Vegetables
- Commit to Purchase 2 Locally Grown Products Each Week
The concept of buying local is simply to buy food (or any good or service) produced as close to your home as possible. Our food is now grown and processed in fewer and fewer locations and it has to travel further to reach the average consumer’s refrigerator. Although this method of production is considered efficient and economically profitable for large agribusiness corporations, it is has impacts on the environment, consumers and rural communities.
Communities depend on the surrounding environment for clean water, clean air, and food. Many citizens have forgotten about the real linkages between themselves and the land. Promoting relationships between consumers and farmers makes these linkages more apparent. With closer relationships, food-buying transactions can focus on more than just price. Consumers may then actively support and encourage practices that support the environment and society.
In the U.S., the average grocery store’s produce travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farm and your refrigerator. About 40% of our fruit is produced overseas. Even though broccoli is likely grown within 20 miles of the average American’s home, it travels an average of 1,800 miles to your table. So how does our food travel from farm field to grocery store? It’s trucked across the country, hauled in freighter ships over oceans, and flown around the world.
To conserve energy, to reduce global climate change, and to decrease costs, farms and consumers should attempt to participate in more local food systems. "Food miles" refer to the distance a food item travels from the farm to your home. The food miles for items you buy in the grocery store tend to be 27 times higher than the food miles for goods bought from local sources.
A tremendous amount of fuel is used to transport foods long distances. Combustion of these fuels releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, acid rain, smog and air pollution. Even the refrigeration required to keep your fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats from spoiling too soon burns up energy. Buying food from local farms means getting food when it’s at its prime. According to the USDA, the U.S. has lost over five million farms since 1935. Family farms are going out of business at break-neck speed, causing rural communities to deteriorate. The U.S. loses two acres of farmland each minute as cities and suburbs spread into the surrounding communities. By supporting local farms near suburban areas and around cities, you help keep farmers on the land, and, at the same time, preserve open spaces and counteract urban sprawl.
Community farmers' markets are a distinct part of our American culture and a unique feature of many Florida towns and cities. Each farmers' market reflects the area's charm with locally produced specialties. Fruits, vegetables, nursery stock and other commodities are available on a seasonal basis reminiscent of a bygone era when local markets were the heart of commercial districts. Most community farmers' markets are open on a seasonal basis.
At farmers markets, producers from an area gather together to sell their goods to residents of the local community. Farmers markets support a sustainable food system by offering regionally-grown produce. Small family farms stay in business; land is protected from development, and consumers receive fresh food that does not travel far. Many markets sell more than just fruits and vegetables, and include meats, wines, cheeses, flowers, herbs, baked goods, wool and hand-crafted items. These markets provide a direct link between the farmer and consumer, benefiting both.