Shopping is a lot like voting: you walk through the aisles of a store, sort through the different candidates, and finally select the ones you want to purchase. You stand in line at the register, and finally cast your votes with every item you buy. If only your receipt were an “I voted” sticker you could wear proudly for the rest of the day, to commemorate the moment in history when you bought this week’s groceries.
Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but not so far from the truth. The fact is that by purchasing a product you are essentially voting for the company that produced it, their business practices, the ingredients that went into it, the packaging that encases it, even the store you bought it from! That’s a lot of pressure for a Sunday morning shopping trip.
While it’s easy to take baby steps toward ethical shopping by purchasing organic food, avoiding animal products, looking for plastic free packaging etc, it’s hard to know for sure what’s going on in that huge farm three states away, or how much regulation really goes into the organic label. This is frustrating because if you’re going to vote for something with your hard earned money, you want to at least know what you’re getting, right?
Well luckily you can, and it’s as simple as hitting the local farmer’s market instead of the local supermarket! Shopping local makes all the difference, and here’s a couple of reasons why:
You Know What You’re Getting:
When you shop local you can actually talk to the farmers or business owners and ask questions about their production methods. Turns out, most small farms are inherently organic, they just haven’t gone through the paperwork and fees of getting certified.
You can find this out just by asking if they use pesticides! Ask questions, get to know the people behind the food or product you are buying and feel good about your purchase decision.
Reduce Environmental Impact:
A lot of the food you eat has traveled more than you have all year! Jealous? While that trip to Europe you took in college may have been life-changing, buying food grown across the world, or even just across the country is quite the opposite. The average piece of produce in the U.S. travels 1,500 miles...that’s a lot of CO2 to trade for a piece of fruit. Not only does this journey wreck havoc on the environment, but the quality of food as well. Who wants to eat produce that ripened on a semi truck?
In comparison, local food is grown within 100 miles of where it’s sold (sometimes closer!). That small journey saves a lot of CO2, and you know you’re getting fresh produce.
There are of course many ways to shop sustainably and get the healthiest, tastiest food. It’s always worth looking into your favorite brands and their farming practices. That being said, buying locally is one of the best ways to ensure that your consumer vote goes to a business whose practices you agree with, whose food quality is fresh, and who supports your local community.