Pros outweigh cons on buying local

It is too bad that it takes soaring fuel and concomitant food prices to get people to do what they should have been doing all along: buying local.

Between rising fuel prices and the farmers raising their crops for fuel instead of food, the cost of everything in the local supermarkets has gone up. Transporting food across countries so that consumers can enjoy normally out of season produce has become very expensive. Grain formerly used for feeding livestock now feeds biodiesel/ethanol plants. Demand for these products is starting to outstrip supply and so the prices go up.

These factors, along with the push to eat more healthfully, have fostered the “buy local” movement. It is really a return to what is the norm for the vast majority of the world. Unlike here in the United States where local products compete with products from around the world at the grocery store, what is available in other places is mostly what can be grown or raised in the area around the community. Food shopping is done on an almost daily basis which ensures freshness of the products purchased. It also means the food has taste and texture that cannot be beat. It is something many people here are now trying to get back to.

We are very fortunate to live in an area that has local farms plus farmers markets. Every week from mid-April through mid-October, no matter where one lives in Kitsap County, one can find a farmers market. At these markets, one can find lots of local produce from lettuce to bok choy to beans, corn and more. There are also homemade cheeses, preserves and soda along with eggs, poultry and baked goods. A number of vendors accept food stamps so fresh food is available to all.

The markets also have vendors who cater to other desires such as gardening and arts and crafts. Depending upon one’s inclination, one can buy cut flowers or plants to brighten one’s home. Arts and crafts range from making pavers for the yard to planter boxes to display the flora purchased.

The market is also a place to meet and chat with friends and neighbors. There are even food vendors to whet the appetite and satiate one’s hunger. In short, the market has just about something for everyone.

However, the market is only available for one day a week. So, it is good to see local grocers, like Central Market, show the same consideration for buying local. These stores also carry many of the products sold by the local farmers’ market vendors.

And, for those who want to insure they get the local produce weekly, they can purchase a share through the program Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). It took a long time for CSAs to show up nearby but the minute they did, my husband and I purchased one. We have continued to be a part of the CSA since and have brought others along with us. Not one person who has chosen to go the CSA route has been disappointed with the quality and amount of food.

Buying local really should be a no-brainer. The food is fresh, it tastes great and you know how it was grown/raised. It supports the local economy and keeps good farmland productive. It cuts down on fuel costs and lessens negative environmental impacts. In short, it is a good thing.

So, given all that, how could anyone not buy local?

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