// July is definitely a good month to start new habits. To make it easy for all of us an initative in Australia started a challenge called “Plastic Free July” which raises awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives. In 2016, 100,000+ Western Australians and more than 1 million people worldwide took part, so the expectations for 2017 are even bigger. To find out more about the challenge & get easy tips to reduce your waste, visit http://www.plasticfreejuly.org
Fitting to this important topic Kris Oak, who works as an Holistic Health Coach, describes in this article which benefits local grocery shopping has for our environment and for ourselves //
Who else is local grocery shopping fan? I personally am a big fan and defender. It’s one of the main things I advise my clients to do – buy as much local as you can. There are so many advantage to buying local compared to buying in a normal supermarket. You are doing something for yourself, you’re supporting local business and you are protecting the environment. If you want to know how you achieve that by buying local, then make sure to read on…
I’m buying local whatever I can. Essentially fruits and vegetables and staples I try to buy products from the European Union. This might seem like a lot of work but once you know what to watch out for and once you have developed your shopping habit, it will be fun.
Local grocery shopping – for the more conscious ones
Chances are that there are regular local farmer’s markets happening in your area. If you aren’t sure then go ahead and research online and/or ask your friends. Ten years ago, local farmer’s markets were more a thing for housewives and maids but nowadays with people being conscious about health and environment, they are becoming more and more popular.
One thing I’d like to point out though when it comes to local grocery shopping is the term “local”. The problem with this term is that it is not exactly defined what local is. Does that mean products from the neighbour village, from the same country or within the European Union? Several surveys have been made about this topic and turns out that opinions about what local is differ hugely between retailer, supplier and consumer. When you are in doubt how local the product you want to buy is, ask the seller.
Besides the unclear definition of local, local grocery shopping has many benefits for everyone, which I’d like to explain in the following paragraphs.
Who’d have thought it could have so many benefits?
The most common benefit is obviously that you support the local economy. Probably you’ve already heard that many small businesses suffer under the dominance of huge supermarket chains and their price-dumping policies. It’s close to impossible for local businesses to compete with these policies. By buying local, you directly support these small businesses and make their survival possible. Through that, they can avoid selling their business to big conglomerates and can stay true to their values.
You’re supporting the environment. Most supermarkets sell food that has been transported thousands of kilometres by boat, plane, train and truck in specific cooled containers to stay fresh until it arrives at the destination. Imagine, the mango you’re buying travelled 10.000km from Costa Rica to reach your supermarket in Germany. The selling of these products increases your carbon footprint enormously because through the transport, loads and loads of carbon dioxide is emitted. Additionally, by buying local, you support that less land is used for monoculture. Monoculture is the cultivation of a single crop in one area, which as detrimental effects on both flora and fauna. Did you know that some countries currently encourage the population to feed birds all year long because they can’t find enough insects anymore even in summer due to the harmful effects of monoculture?
Benefit number three goes hand in hand with number 2. Less monoculture and less carbon footprint automatically means a variety of in season products. When it comes to local grocery shopping, you usually will only find products that are in season. That means berries in spring and summer, pumpkin in fall and winter. You’ll see how much better local, in season food tastes compared to food that has travelled thousands of kilometres. Your taste buds will be very grateful.
Besides reducing your carbon footprint, another benefit of local grocery shopping is that you reduce your waste as well. At a local farmer’s market for example, the produce is usually sold without packaging. To avoid plastic, you should bring your own shopping bags. There are many, very nice and environmentally friendly options nowadays. My favourite are canvas bags or a basket, there are even reusable cotton bags made to buy produce. Besides fruits and vegetables, there are more and more zero-waste concept stores that work with dispensers. Like that you can buy exactly the amount of legumes, grains etc. that you need, completely without package. That means you can buy things in bulks easily. If you haven’t heard about zero-waste shops yet, make sure to check out if they exist in the area where you live.
Last benefit and for me the point that initially brought me to local grocery shopping is health. Local, small producers usually don’t use or at least use much less chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Which means, less toxins running into the soil and consequently into the ground water. Additionally, we aren’t ingesting any chemicals by consuming local products, which has a positive effect on our short-term and long-term health. Usually, the toxins we are ingesting are very difficult for our body or more specifically our liver to absorb. The less our food is chemically treated, the less our body must invest energy into digestion, which means more energy for our body to fight harmful bacteria. Did you know that food that contains a lot of food additives has a direct negative effect on our mood? That means, that shopping local supports your physical and mental health.
Those are five very important benefits of local grocery shopping. There are certainly more than that but it’s a good start and supposed to be a little food for thought. Many claim that buying local or organic is so much more expensive, however, what no one mentions is that in the price of the so called “normal food” the externalities aren’t considered. Meaning all the damage that’s done to the environment, which will cost a lot of money to rectify or all the doctor appointments and medication many will have to pay for in some years because their health is so bad. If you add this to the price of your regular price of food in the supermarket, guaranteed that local products will be cheaper. I mean, who doesn’t prefer to spend some more money today for fresh, tasty, local products instead of in the future more to fight symptoms and illnesses that could have been avoided all along?
Do you have any benefits of local grocery shopping to add?
About the author: Kris is a Holistic Health Coach and the founder of Kris Oak. She helps people that suffer from mental health issues like anxiety, depression and burn-out symptoms to live a healthy lifestyle. She teaches her clients to listen to the signs their body is giving them and how to make conscious, healthy eating choices. In her free time, she likes to try new recipes, practice Yoga and travel the world.