I love the fresh produce that changes throughout the seasons, the fresh cut flowers for my table, and the fresh produce of vegetables and fruits that are locally grown or those sold at the wet markets in Hong Kong (mainly from China).
Not only is the food delicious, but also I appreciate being able to buy from local farmers and vendors. There are several reasons why this benefits my family, and the local community, as well as me.
Benefits of buying locally:
1. Transportation costs. The cost of fuel to transport foods from around the world to my local grocer is tremendous. One of the major drivers of food cost is transportation cost, and so buying locally can save money off my grocery bill. I do acknowledge that if you’ve shopped at organic green markets in Central or Quarry Bay, then the prices are just as high as purchasing from Citysuper or the more upmarket supermarket chains.
2. Environmental impact. Not only does transportation cost money, but also it creates pollution. Vehicles used to transport foods rely on fossil fuels for energy, emitting greenhouse gases – a contributor to climate change.
3. Eating seasonally. Historically we had no choice but to eat food that was fresh in the current season. Today, we have access to many options 12 months throughout the year. This means we’re often spoiled for choice and so eating seasonal food can actually end up as being something that takes a little effort. But I like the idea of getting back to eating within the seasons. Eating seasonally forces you to have greater diversity in your diet and allows for greater nutrient content when consumption can occur close to the time of harvest.
4. Community economics. Buying from local farmers helps to financially support the farmers and their families, which helps to support your local economy as well. Remember, the big food chains are often owned globally by just a handful of corporate giants.
5. Knowing where food comes from. When I purchase directly from the farmer I can learn about their farming practices. Some farmers may choose to use sustainable and organic farming practices but may not have the financial ability to become certified organic. By talking to them you can learn how they grow their food and understand what you are really buying.
6. Food security. I want to have food grown in my area so there will always be food grown in my area. By supporting local farmers I am increasing the likelihood of them staying around.
7. The farmer’s market is a happy place. It’s a little different in Hong Kong, but if you’re living in the States, Australia or in Europe and if you haven’t experienced the joy of your local farmer’s market, you must give it a try. There is no comparison to the experience of being outdoors with your neighbors shopping for fresh food. It’s not only good for your local economy, but great as a social hangout spot because many farmer’s markets have stories that cook up the food too. In Hong Kong, our version is stores located next to the wet market where you can shop for fresh fish and seafood in the Aberdeen fish market and then go next door to get your seafood cooked fresh for you.