We’ve been hearing more and more about the benefits of buying local lately. And we’re one of the steadfast contributors to this important conversation here at vLife.
Why? Because research has shown that by buying locally sourced products, you’re supporting your fellow community members, growing your local economy, and reducing your carbon footprint.
So, it just makes good sense, when we can, to buy-local.
For example, by supporting and buying from local food providers, you’re supporting local food vendors, and thus, contributing to a more sustainable local supply chain.
But what about the common belief that buying local is ‘more expensive’? Though it sometimes is, we must remember that big box production is artificially cheap – at the expense of people and planet. Naomi Klein’s book, No Logo (and her subsequent books) illustrate just how detrimental our global reliance on mass produced goods is on workers, and the environment.
And, by contrast, here’s our video overviewing the virtuous cycle of buying local to the benefit of people and planet.
To further the conversation, we thought we’d explore some of the specific benefits of buying local in support, and as a counter the criticisms sometimes levied – like ‘it’s always more expensive’ or ‘it doesn’t really make a difference’.
Not so, my friends. Check out how buying-local, when you can, helps in oh-so-many ways!
Buying local food is better for your health
Local food producers make more fresh products with fewer (or zero) added preservatives. For example, local bakeries bake fresh everyday. On the other hand, those bagels that you see at large retail stores baked many days ago maybe shipped frozen from other provinces (or countries). And they’ll have way more preservatives.
Also, switching to more local organic foods will help reduce intake of harmful chemicals and GMOs, which recent studies have shown, can adversely affect health and development.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to buy everything you eat from local places. But it can be a good idea to buy certain things, like produce, locally. Maybe you can make a point to only buy bread from local bakeries and vendors. And if you’re worried that buying local food is always more expensive, check out our blog with comparison prices of local market and grocery store produce here.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Buying local food for better quality
Quality matters. Taste matters. Cheap fruit at large retail stores are tasteless. 4 lbs of tasteless blueberry vs 2 lbs of locally fresh blueberries. The local and fresh option is better for your health & your tastebuds.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you HAVE to buy fresh produce every single time.
But, if you do have the ability to buy local foods and produce (bonus health points for organic), try increasing the number of times you do.
Visit more local farmers markets over the weekends and try experimenting with new fruit and veg! If you’re hosting a party, or your baking for a special occasion, buying ingredients from local shops and markets counts too!
Buying local benefits you and your economy
By keeping money circulating in your community, you’re more likely to see your purchase dollars benefit you than if you were to put it into a big chain store.
A lot more, in fact.
The U.S. Small Business Administration estimated that when you spend $100 at a local business, $48 will circle back into the local economy. That’s nearly half! In comparison, if you spend $100 at a big chain store, only $14 of that will stay in your community.
This recirculation of your purchase dollars from buying local also creates more local jobs, and can even provides more community services and supports – which benefit everyone!
So, while it might be easier to buy from big chain stores, buying locally, when you can, will ensure that more of your purchase dollars will work supporting you and your community in future.
Talk about a great return on your investment in buying local!
Buying local means supporting other local businesses
Prioritizing fresh production, small local restaurants often use local suppliers instead of imported ingredients. For example, fresh, in-season, strawberries, apples, or pumpkin for seasonal dessert menu specials – often sourced from local farms.
Local bakeries who make their own breads and seasonal themed desserts will also often buy from local markets and food producers for the same reason.
As you can see, buying local contributes to this harmonious symbiotic relationship between small businesses, as they come together to provide us with high quality goods.
So, next time you’re looking for a place to eat out, consider a local restaurant or pub whenever you get the chance.
Or consider shifting your weekly bread purchase to a local bakery. In fact, you can even buy Halifax Bread Factory’s Molasses Brown Bread at many Costcos across the Atlantic region!
Buying local at Costco – who knew??
And Sobeys prides itself on sourcing locally too with signage that makes local options easy to spot. Case in point, Simply Go Natural Cosmetics shea-butter hair and skincare products are sold in many local Sobeys. So keep your eyes peeled when you’re next there!
Buying Local – in Bulk
Bulk purchases from local suppliers are better than shipped bagged items from big box retailers. For example, gardening, mulch, grass seeds, fertilizer can all be bought from local garden centres. Check out this article about how a local Nova Scotia business is making this possible!
While this may require a hefty upfront payment, it will last for quite a long time, and will definitely be worth it in the end. Buying locally in bulk can be especially great for families, small or large. It can minimize the amount of trips you’ll take just to buy produce (reducing your carbon footprint), and you’ll be supporting local businesses at a cost effective rate.
Buying local helps you, your community, and the planet
Now that’s a whole lot of wins!
Every purchase you make from a small local provider instead of a large chain makes a difference. So choosing to do so a bit more, over time has multiple benefits.
For those who buy local all the time, great! For those who do so occasionally, when they can – fab! It’s not about feeling guilty if you purchase from a larger chain store. It’s more about being mindful of the multitude of benefits when you choose the small indie cafe over the Big Chain, when you can.
So enjoy the journey of finding more small indie businesses to support and sing the praises of your favs to your networks, online & in-person, so others can enjoy and reap the benefits of buying local too.
That’s how the Buy Local Movement will continue to grow and how our small businesses, the local economy, and the planet will flourish as a result!