Buying local has wonderful benefits that help you, your community, and the environment. By buying local goods, you support your communities’ small businesses and you have the power to ensure that eco-friendly decisions are made. It is also a great way to put tax dollars and much more back into your own community.
Why Should We Buy Locally?
Locally made, grown, and sold goods are usually high quality. Small, local businesses are more likely than large companies to have a “theme” that their business focuses on. For example, a small business that sells beauty products can’t sell all types of beauty products because this would be too large of a job to take on. The business might focus on organic, plant-based products, and this would be their theme.
It takes a lot of money and energy to mass produce products; by having this theme, the time and energy it takes to make all types of beauty products can be converted into time and energy to ensure the quality (and eco-friendliness) of the ingredients within the product.
Another benefit of buying from small companies in your area is that it allows you to get to know the owner and ensure that they treat their livestock humanely and source the ingredients of their products ethically.
By buying our goods locally, we support the people in our community. Local goods are usually more expensive than the cheap, generic brands found online or in big stores. However, it is crucial that we occasionally splurge because if we only buy the cheap stuff the people with small businesses won’t make a living.
What Should We Buy Locally?
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are sold locally at farmers markets, food trucks from local farms, small stores that sell produce from local greenhouses and gardens, and many other places. A small, locally owned business in my area that sells produce from local farms and greenhouses is Breadroot. Big stores, such as Walmart, rarely sell local produce, so by buying local fruits and vegetables from stores like Breadroot, you support the store and the growers, too.
These local stores are beneficial to produce growers; they allow them to sell their products without the hassle of maintaining a grocery store, and the growers usually make more money this way by cutting out the “middle men” involved in larger food chains.
Local produce is higher quality than commercial produce, having traveled only a short distance to the store shelf. Also, many smaller growers don’t use pesticides, even if they can’t afford to go through the process of labeling their food organic. Buying fruits and vegetables locally allows you to get to know the growers and learn about their growing methods. Talk to the grower to find out if they use pesticides.
Meat, Eggs, and Dairy
We always look for meat, eggs, and dairy locally because the animals are more likely to be grass fed, pasture raised, and cage-free. When buying locally, it’s best to make sure that the farms you buy from are small. Larger farms and ranches typically send their cows to feed lots where, according to PETA, “Cattle on feedlots are fed a highly unnatural diet of grain and corn, which is designed to fatten them up quickly.” The feedlots that cows spend the remainder of their lives in have horrible conditions. Small farms are more likely to raise their cows and other livestock in a better setting.
Companies that sell massive amounts of milk and dairy products have to make sure that their cows produce lots of milk; most ensure this by injecting them with additional hormones and steroid hormones. According to NCBI, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “the presence of steroid hormones in dairy products could be counted as an important risk factor for various cancers in humans.”
Wouldn’t you want to eat a burger knowing that the cow it came from was raised happily in wide open spaces, or drink a glass of milk without experiencing negative side effects? On that note, local farms’ animals and their products are typically treated better and are better for your health. Yay to animal rights!
Check your area to see where you can buy local meat, eggs, and dairy. Sometimes you can buy right from the farmer or through small, local stores.
Honey deserves its own section because of the benefits you reap when you buy local, unrefined honey. Unrefined honey, which is rarely sold in big stores, has more benefits than the refined “honey” that is sold worldwide. Locally made and produced, unpasteurized, hive to jar honey is the best kind you can get.
Refined honey is heated at high temperatures, which kills beneficial enzymes. Excess filtering also removes propolis and bee pollen, both of which have wonderful health perks. Local, raw, unfiltered honey contains all of the wonderful elements that make honey a superfood. To ensure you are getting high-quality, unrefined honey, check the label carefully. You might only be able to find it at farmer’s markets, at select local stores, or straight from the beekeeper.
I love coffee shops, especially when they’re small and locally owned. Everyone loves a Starbucks latte now and then, but most local coffee shops buy their ingredients from other local people. This includes the food and gift items in the shop, so by buying from these coffee shops, you also support other local businesses.
Another reason that locally owned coffee shops are great is because many of them are open to suggestions, such as adding gluten-free, paleo, etc. snacks to their menu. Many also make eco-friendly choices, or are more open to making them than a larger chain coffee shop would be.
There’s nothing better than visiting a local greenhouse or tree farm. Plants that are grown locally are already adapted to the climate, whereas trees bought in big stores are usually from out of state. There are always exceptions, so talk to your local greenhouse or tree farm owner to ensure that the plants you buy are high quality and adaptable to your climate.
Keep in mind that some tropical plants can be grown in colder climates, but only as annuals during summer. If you want a perennial, make sure that the plant will survive winter in your area. Local greenhouse owners are usually very knowledgeable about the local climate and what grows well.
Beauty and Health Products
I believe that buying beauty and health products from small, local businesses is important because the quality of the ingredients is usually higher and they are better for your health. These small businesses also have a niche, or a reason that they started their business. For example, a local beekeeper sells honey, and might also sell health products containing honey or beeswax produced by their bees.
Small businesses can’t mass produce their products and usually use ingredients that they can easily access. Because of this, the ingredient label is often smaller (and more understandable) than ones found in big stores. The ingredient labels should have words that we can pronounce!
Art, Decor, Jewelry, etc.
Local art, jewelry, and clothing is more pricey than most of the art found in big stores, but it is always more genuine. You get what you pay for, and you’ll get to know the artist. It feels good knowing that you’re buying a piece of art that was created with love and care and time, rather than pumped out by a machine.
You might find many reasons not to buy local goods, but the benefits of buying local usually outweigh the reasons to buy from big stores. Besides typically being eco-friendly and healthier, simply knowing that you’re supporting a small business is reason enough to start buying local. Of course, buying from big stores is sometimes necessary and more convenient, but even committing to buying just a few of your regular products locally makes a difference.