Let’s be honest. We all feel frustrated when we feel pigeonholed by our shopping choices. So many of us feel like we’re at the mercy of the big supermarkets that dominate the fresh produce market. Some of us may have access to smaller grocery chains, but they usually charge a lot more than the bigger supermarkets and we don’t want to sacrifice our hard-earned cash just to avoid supporting big corporates.
The truth is that you have a lot more choice than you may realise when it comes to fresh produce and in fact can make a huge amount of positive change by choosing greener alternatives when shopping for food.
Shopping locally provides the best solution and will result in huge positive change on personal, community and environmental levels.
The importance of a balanced diet that is packed with fresh fruit and vegetables is widely known and is also proven to help prevent chronic diseases. Most people are well aware of this, but what about the source of those fresh fruits and vegetables? Have you ever considered whether that will make a difference to your health (hint, the answer is yes!).
What about our communities? We’ve seen much of Australia devastated by wildfires, floods and droughts in the last few years, as well as the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to direct your hard-earned cash towards your neighbours who’ve had it tough over the last few years?
The answer of course is shopping local, but these aren’t the only benefits. Below we have counted out six reasons why not only you should shop locally, but also why you should convince your friends and family to do so as well.
- Shopping local is better for your body and for your wallet
Produce that is sourced from local farmers is fresher and more likely to be in season, meaning its nutritional value is maximised. Crops are picked at their peak and this reduced time between farm-to-table means it will be tastier, more flavour-packed and better for you.
Additionally, it is important to point out that food can be contaminated at any stage from farm to plate, so this reduced time also helps protect you from any nasties that could find their way onto your food in transport or storage.
Eating seasonally also means that you are buying what’s in abundance and so it’s likely to keep costs down and be better for your wallet.
Utilising small local grocers (like us!) means that you will benefit from all of the above since there is minimal transit time between the farm, us and you.
- Australian produce is safer and higher quality
Australian food is in high demand, with our producers exporting about 70 per cent of agricultural produce, including 3.7 billion worth of food to the US every year. We have an excellent reputation for clean, high quality produce and have extremely strict food safety standards in place to ensure that we keep it that way. This involves regulating chemicals used in agriculture and veterinary products in a way that is different and much more rigid than many other countries.
While this is comforting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can trust products labelled ‘Australian made’ at every supermarket. The ‘Australian made’ label can be applied to foods that don’t actually contain 100% Australian ingredients. So you still may not be benefiting from our high food safety standards, even if you’re looking at that label.
Again, the best answer is to buy local from farmers and small local grocers who are less likely to be importing ingredients to include in their foods.
Local farmers aren’t anonymous like those who sell to supermarkets, so they know their consumers have access to them, which provides a degree of accountability. It also means that if you’re curious about their ingredients for their products, you can probably just call and ask!
Here at Farmbox Co we know where all of our produce comes from and we work closely with our suppliers and producers. If you have any questions about anything, just ask and if we can’t answer them, we’ll ask our suppliers directly.
- Shopping local supports local farmers more directly
Shopping directly from farmers or through smaller local grocers supports farmers more than you would if you bought produce from larger supermarkets. A Weekly Times investigation found that farmers are receiving just a quarter of the proceeds from an average basket of fresh produce from a supermarket. Horticulture producers were amongst the worst off, with orange producers receiving less than 8% of the final retail price.
The major supermarkets blamed distribution, freight and storage costs for this injustice. Regardless of finger pointing, the easy solution is you to support farmers by sourcing your produce directly from farmers or local grocers who have fewer overheads and are more transparent about how they pay their farmers.
Smaller local grocers are also more likely to make an effort to pay a fairer pricce for their produce because they don’t have access to as many farms as the national supermarkets do. Our focus at Farmbox Co. is all about supporting Aussie farmers and we work hard to ensure that they’re fairly compensated.
- Shopping local helps build local communities and economies
We only have to look at the devastation of the last few years to understand the importance of building up our local economies. The devastation of the 2019/20 bushfire season and shutdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have placed enormous strain on Australian communities.
Shopping local provides each of us an opportunity to put money that we would already be spending back into our economy. Of the 85,486 agricultural businesses in Australia, over 99% are wholly Australian owned, so when you shop with local farmers and smaller grocers, you are almost definitely supporting another Australian. Remember that small businesses such as ours tend to pay produce and grocery suppliers a lot better than bigger supermarkets do, so we’re still a better choice even if you’re making an effort to choose Australian ingredients in your usual shopping run.
Shopping local also preserves farms, with supported farmers less likely to sell their farmland off to developers. This is important not only for local communities and economies, but also for environmental reasons, with plants essential to keeping down greenhouse gasses that are contributing to global warming.
- Shopping locally helps to protect the environment
Many changes have been made to Australian farming practices over the last decade to reduce carbon emissions and move towards more sustainable practices. Australia has developed environmental protection policies, which must be adhered to by growers, farmers, producers and sellers.
Additionally, locally sourced food doesn’t use the immense amounts of plastic, which is often what’s found with large supermarket produce. Therefore, it generates less of an environmental footprint than food sold by supermarkets.
Finally, eating seasonally, which happens more naturally when you shop locally, can reduce the environmental impacts of global seasonality in terms of energy and water consumption.
- Shopping locally helps to protect bees
Yes, we know... this should technically be included in our environmental argument, but the truth is that the bees are important enough to require their own whole section.
Bees play a critical part in our ecosystem. There are more honeybees globally than any other type of bee and pollinating insect, meaning it’s the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. There are estimations that one third of the food we consume every day relies on the pollination that is mainly done by bees.
If we lose bees, we risk the food security we require for survival and the bees are at risk from climate change and their disappearing habitats (caused largely from urbanisation).
Shopping locally and supporting local farmers and apiaries means more plants and therefore more food sources for bees, as well as more deliberately made homes for the bees. This means happier and hopefully more bees, because without them, we’re ALL in trouble.
Believe it or not, we could go on. There are so many more reasons why shopping locally will improve your life, your community and help to protect the environment. If you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
If you would like to take a first step towards shopping local, feel free to explore our range of produce and grocery items; all sourced from Australian growers and producers and delivered straight to your door. Click here to get started.