12 Reasons To Shop and Eat Local

 Local, small business shopping and eating is important to the growth and expansion of our communities and cities. The benefits of local shopping impact  health, economics, the environment and your community as a whole. Even doing a portion of your shopping and eating at local, non-franchise businesses can show change in your neighborhood and the surrounding areas.

Independent We Stand /  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
1. Invests in Your Community
You've probably visited your old neighborhood to discover that all the Mom and Pop shops you went to as kid are dead and gone, with Starbucks and McDonalds standing in their places.

While having the original shops there are nostalgic, if they are to stay open, they must be shopped at.

Giving your money to a small business helps them stay open. Whenever you opt for Starbucks over a (cheaper) coffee from your local bakery, you invest in the corporation, and not the individual people of your community and their business. By investing in your neighbors, you invest in yourself.

2. Money Stays Local
Local business are likely to spend their money locally, which keeps money circulating within the community and supports the local economy. Chain restaurants only return about 30% of the money they earn to the local economy, while many small, local eateries spend their money local to buy fresh ingredients from farmers markets, delis and butchers and can put as much as 79% back into the communities economy.

Money spent at corporate franchises and many places online go to the corporations and vendors overseas.

Union Square Green Market, NYC
The Green Monger

3. Health and Environmental Benefits
Locally farmed and bought food hold more health benefits, as they are usually picked more fresh, ripe and bursting with nutrients. Farmers markets sell many items that were picked within the last 24 hours. At the farmers market, you get a hands-on opportunity to talk to the farmer about how the food is produced, if its organic, if they use pesticides, and if they are GMO free. The majority of products at farmers markets, are GMO free with little or no pesticides.

Buying locally produced food, including meat, dairy and eggs also reduce green house gas emissions as they did not need to travel very far to get to its destination.
Conventional farming methods cause soil erosion, contamination of soil, air, and water with pesticides and waste, nitrate loading of waterways and wells, and decline of biodiversity. Local, organic farms produce less contamination, produce less C02 emissions, and if done properly, can make higher yields and maintain on less water usage.

Jackson Heights Green Market, Queens NY
The Green Monger

4. Seasonal Eating
With the fact that Avocados and Papayas can be shipped from other countries all year round, we lose touch with eating seasonally. When we buy fruits and vegetables out of season, not only are they more expensive, less nutritious, and more crappy looking to be blunt. But still, this poor quality fruit is shipped across the ocean pumping pollution into the air and sea.

Seasonal eating is cheaper, as harvest time brings an abundance of certain fruits and vegetables that local farms can offer at a good price because they go straight from the farm to you! No middle man, yo. 

I also find that you appreciate the cherry, the strawberry, or the peach more when you waited all winter for it and are consuming it at its very local, best!

5. Self Sufficient Communities
Supporting businesses that grow and produce products locally lessens reliance on needing items to be shipped to us. Buying non-local food and goods promote larger, factory farms that hurt both the environment and local communities, which may cause the local ones to close down, leaving us vulnerable to food shortages when times start getting rough, or an event happens where food cannot be shipped to us. Supporting local keeps the food supply in the communities hands.

A community that supports its local shops are more likely to open more independent shops in the area, creating self employment and new job opportunities. Many community members can collaborate on a shop and go into business together.

6. Puts Your Taxes To Good Use
Another part of being self sufficient as a community. Local businesses need less infrastructure investment and make better use of public services compared to their franchise counterpart. Local tax dollars support your neighborhoods infrastructure, roads, the fire and police departments, schools, libraries and more.

La Guli Pastry Shop, Astoria NY
The Green Monger

7. Keeps Your Hood Distinct
Independently owned shops and markets create a unique environment of interesting places and people with no Radio Shacks, Subways and Bank of America's plastering the landscape.

8. Materials Sourced Locally
Many shops carry goods that are made from locally sourced materials, or made by people in your community. You can find handmade items that help boost the lively hood of the people making them.

9. Won't Buy The Hype
Shopping from small businesses ensure that you are purchasing more things that you actually need, and not the hype of having stuff when you go browsing in malls and department stores.

10. Bargaining and Good Customer Service
In local, small business thrift, gift shops and markets, you may be able to haggle a bit with your merchant and get a very good deal. Sometimes I get free potatoes, or cheaper peaches just for being friendly with the farmers. Franchise have to sell things at the prices they are marked and aren't extremely interested in making fabulous impression with you to keep you as a customer. Many franchise must do things by the book.

Small business owners are members of your community, and your friends who appreciate your business, and will go out of their way to give you good service, and keep you happy. They stock unique items, and are happy to order things that you request.

NYC Hot Dog Vendor
5oulscape /  CC BY-NC 2.0
11. Make Friends and Connections
Remember how when we were kids, we knew everyone on the block, and they knew our families? We knew better than to get out of line, because a neighbor could easily take us to our parents. As I get older that sense of community fades every day. Shopping at local small businesses and farmers markets helps build a stronger sense of community and gives you a chance to get to know your neighbors from the merchants, to other customers in the store.

12. Invests in Non-Profits
It is very common for small business owners to invest money into local non-profits and organizations. Money going to your community helps your community grow stronger. From after school programs, workshops, help groups, sponsorship of local sports teams and events.

Jackson Heights Green Market, Queens NY
The Green Monger

The best times to shop local are ALWAYS, but some really important times to shop local are during the Holidays. Halloween, Thanksgiving / Black Friday, Christmas, New Years and Valentines day are the holidays that make a lot of money. How fantastic if that money was actually circulating within your community and helping it thrive? Happy Holidays indeed!

Any other great reasons to shop and eat local? Leave a comment below, or drop a line on Facebook.

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