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Buying Local

All things old are new again.  “Buying local” harkens to the day when all our produce was locally grown, processed, marketed and consumed.  Buying food, goods or services rendered, produced or grown near your home is Buying Local.

Small farms have been on a steady decline since World War II as the U.S. undertook the noble goal of providing plentiful and affordable food for all citizens.  Modern agriculture has evolved over many decades with more large industrialized farms, suitcase and corporate farmers.  As time passed, consumers came to expect good quality food at lower and lower prices.  This also resulted in food being grown further from the consumer with processing occurring in centralized locations throughout the country.  Thus was borne the concept of “food miles”, that is, the distance that food travels from grower to consumer.  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. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. July, 2003

Benefits of this system meant that consumers could have a wide variety of produce available throughout the year, regardless of the local growing season. This system gave rise to large agricultural operations in the warmer climates of the U.S. and other countries.

Modern Food Facts:

  • In the U.S., the average grocery store’s produce travels nearly 1,500 miles before reaching the consumer
  • About 40% of our fruit is produced overseas
  • Broccoli sold at U.S. supermarkets travels an average 1,800 miles to market
  • 9% of red meat sold in the U.S. comes from foreign countries

Benefits of buying food from your local farmer or producer include:

  • An indigenous nutritious & healthy food supply
  • Confidence in the knowledge of food with known origins
  • Strengthening the regional agricultural economy
  • Protecting and sustaining the region’s remaining rural landscape character
  • Sustaining agricultural communities
  • Connections for citizens regarding agriculture’s role in their lives
  • Local jobs and wealth remains in the community

Where to Find Local Food?

  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  • Farmers Markets
  • Farm, Roadside Stands
  • Pick-Your-Own Farms
  • Food Cooperatives
  • Supermarkets Featuring Local Food

Web Resources for Local Food Facts:

Greens Grow Farms: http://www.greensgrow.org/pages_04/10reasons.html

Sustainable Table: http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/whybuylocal/

Green Fork: http://blog.eatwellguide.org/

Food Routes: http://www.foodroutes.org/

Local Harvest: http://www.localharvest.org/buylocal.jsp

Montgomery Dept. of Economic Development : http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/agstmpl.asp?url=/content/ded/agservices/index.aspbuylocal.jsp