What I'm about to say might make you groan: buy local. Still with me? Okay. The words have almost become abstract over the course of the many food movements we are currently witnessing. You should know that there are many real reasons to skip the supermarket.
For instance, here are just some of the things you can accomplish by buying your meat or produce directly from the farm:
Eat fresher and better tasting food.
Keep your neighbor (that is, your local farmer) in business.
Weaken the industrial farming status quo by supporting small, independent farms.
Familiarize yourself with the seasonality of different foods.
Boost your region's economy by supporting local, independent food businesses.
Sustain biodiversity by supporting farms that prioritize environmental stewardship.
Acquire a new-found appreciation for ingredients. (Local heirloom tomato beats the supermarket tomato in January every time.)
Know the person who grows/raises your food.
Reduce the number of miles (and gallons of fossil fuels) needed to get food to your plate.
Eat in a way that reflects your values: respect for animals, care for the planet, etc.
Try new varieties of fruits and vegetables that aren't offered in the supermarket: rainbow carrots, black tomatoes, blue potatoes, watermelon radishes. These are not made up vegetables.
Connect with other like-minded people.
Set a great example for those around you!
And I'm sure I've missed a few amazing reasons to frequent the farmers market or join a buying club.
You'll notice that some of things I mentioned mainly benefit you and some of the benefits are more altruistic. Although the "selfish" reasons for eating local might be the most obvious motivators, we often feel discouraged by the broader reasons to change our behavior, that our individual actions aren't consequential in the grand scheme of things, making the altruistic reasons less persuasive. Surely, if we thought our shopping at the farmers market would change the world, a lot more of us would do it.
Joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) might not achieve world peace, but there are significant impacts to buying local, and we've boiled them down to five main areas...
(Image designed for the Ethical Farming Fund by Eric Mrock. Thanks, Eric!)
Don't let the magnitude of the world's food problems stop you from being a force for good for your health, for the planet, for the animals, and for your neighbors!
To take the next step, check out our Resources for Eaters.