Local food carries with it many benefits, in particular increased nutritional value, leading to overall healthier food. In addition to the health benefits, there can also be a great financial benefit to eating local, in contrast to purchasing from chain stores or supermarkets, who obtain their produce from large distributors.
When considering which fruit and vegetables to buy, consider the season. Seasonal produce costs less to grow and is usually grown more widely in larger quantities. This means that the transport costs associated with the produce is often greatly reduced. These savings in both the cost of production and cost of transport are very often passed on to the consumer. The reason for this is simple. A store can make more money from selling its entire stock of one item at a slightly lower cost, than by selling fewer items at a higher cost, and having to pay to dispose of the remainder.
Take part in a scheme
Schemes such as box schemes can save a lot of money. As the distribution chain is taken out of the equation, farmers can afford to reduce charges in comparison to those they would charge to supermarkets. In doing so, the farmer still retains his profit, but also gains more custom in the process, therefore securing continued income for the future. Other schemes, such as a CSA work slightly differently. By investing a certain amount into the success of the farm in its entirety, the customer receives a share of the produce. In the vast majority of cases, the produce received is worth more than the share paid.
Store food smartly
Local food is almost always fresher and loaded with more nutrients than distributed produce. With this comes the opportunity to store food for the long term. With a small amount of preparation, the majority of fresh produce can be frozen while still in its prime, retaining the majority of its nutrients, and thereby increasing its flexibility of use. Store bought produce often comes with a short expiry date, meaning that when the time comes to place it into long term storage, the produce is either close to passing, or has passed the prime opportunity to store. By storing food wisely, waste is greatly reduced, and the requirement to purchase replacements for unusable items is removed.
Visit farmers markets or farm shops & Get to know your local farmers
Farmers markets & farm shops offer a great method to obtain seasonal produce with minimal fuss and expense. By visiting these, the customer has the opportunity to meet with the farmer, negotiate deals and bargains, and purchase only what they need. As produce is obtained directly from the farmer, overhead costs are reduced, and there is more movement for “bartering”, which is not possible in a chain store or supermarket.
Grow your own
The cheapest way to eat local food is to grow it yourself. Seed packs can be obtained for extremely low prices, and with a moderate level of time and attention, high quality produce can be grown. For some, growing food is a way of life, and many are self sufficient. For others, selected items are grown at home, ranging from herbs, to vegetables and fruit. There are numerous schemes and websites dedicated to helping people grow their own food, some offering free seed “starter packs” for those who take part.
There are many ways to save money by eating local, and depending upon the type of person, the money saved can be quite considerable. It is important to remember that eating local offers not just a monetary saving, but also a health and environmental saving too, which furthermore benefits customers by reduced healthcare costs and environmental taxes. The benefits are immense, and the work required minimal, there is no reason not to take part.