When shopping locally, we can take a step away from big-box retailers and slowly start to consider how the small picture impacts the greater good. In essence, we are introducing ourselves to people doing business within their local community, who are passionate and dedicated to what they do – farmers are just one example, but there are many more.
Today, we will review some of the main benefits of shopping locally and how each small move affects the buyer's experience.
1. Health Improvement
There are numerous health benefits that your whole family can take advantage of by buying local products. Just think: you have access to fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables, which may be organic, and free of pesticides or chemicals. There are also grass-fed meats, fresh free-range and/or organic eggs, and dairy products from animals that feast on local, green grass every day. Another great example is product purity. Get access to unrefined oils and vinegar, as well as unpasteurized and unprocessed local raw honey. The benefits of a minimally processed diet include lower rates of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Another advantage of eating mostly whole foods comes from the vast array of nutrients acting together. So, altogether, these types of products have many health benefits and can keep your family in tip-top shape.
2. A Thriving Local Economy
Every time you make a local purchase, you are helping money stay within the local community. One study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city, whereas only $43 remained in the city for $100 spent at a large grocery chain. Local businesses are more accountable to their local communities and donate more money to non-profits. Furthermore, supporting local businesses is good for the environment. They often have a smaller carbon footprint than larger companies. This provides us with a lot of incentive – businesses are motivated to support other local companies and want to develop new and innovative products to keep shoppers from needing to go to larger stores. Right down to the supplies, anyone involved in local business is more personally invested in selling, buying and promoting local food.
3. Know the Farm Behind the Product
Shopping locally often allows you to get to know the farmer personally, understand their values, and how they run their business. This connection is the thread that keeps entire local communities aligned with a higher purpose. We don't only want to know about the product, but we care to hear about the origin of the company, its mission statement and overarching vision. And because we are interacting within the same region, we already know the history and background, we just want to learn more about the company and we can. Also, we don't have to worry about what we're eating due to greater transparency in the food supply chain. Another term that comes to mind is traceability. This gives the consumer the power to know where the food they are eating comes from, tracking any food through production, processing and distribution.
4. A Unique Community
It sure makes a significant difference when your food is locally-sourced. Flavours change; for example, eating a free-range organic egg atop a slice of ethically raised pork ham and fresh English muffin made with local stone ground flour will give you a better experience than eating an Egg McMuffin from McDonald's. Every person has their preference, but it is the uniqueness of local ingredients that compel consumers to wait in line at the newest restaurant in town or bring guests together for a delectable meal at their very own table. This uniqueness is a reflection of the community and vice versa.
5. Customer Service Improves
Instead of dealing with a customer service call centre located in another country, small local businesses allow consumers to connect with the people running the company for any of their concerns or questions. This personalized approach can contribute to improved brand awareness and overall sales of products. One of the best aspects of this is that you learn a little bit about the business' story every time you interact with one of their employees. You also can deal directly with the owner, so there's no intermediary or doorkeeper.
6. More Personalized Service
This section directly relates to the previous one, in that having the owner nearby means they know their customers, their products, and are committed to sharing that with the world. You could be wanting something they don't carry, and by communicating this to them, the product can be added and available for you and others to enjoy. Everyone wants to live in a community that fosters positive interaction. Shopping locally becomes a great way to promote business by being not only positive but proactive and involved.
By and large, shopping local in itself supports the local community, the farmers and vendors that lovingly create their products for an interested audience to enjoy. Consumers can feel empowered knowing that they contribute to what may seem small initially. Still, in actuality, they are also empowering society as a whole, which affects the economy and, ultimately, the environment.