Keeping It Local

With an increasingly interconnected, globalized marketplace, many communities have seen a surge in homegrown movements to support local businesses.  These movements have been especially prevalent and imperative when it comes to agriculture.  Support of local businesses by the community in which they operate is instrumental to many organizations’ vitality, and I have been trying to better support my own city’s farmers.  In addition to the warm fuzzy feeling I get inside from knowing I’m doing a good thing, I also end up with an added bonus: healthier eating!  Check out these tips to learn how you can also support agriculture in your own community.

Picture of Charleston Farmers' Market

Charleston Farmers’ Market with the Rents

  1. Hit up your local farmers’ market: This is a no-brainer.  If you want to buy local, but aren’t quite sure where to start, check out your city or town’s farmers’ market.  There is likely at least one, if not more, held each week.  Not only will you support neighborhood businesses, you’ll also find some yummy treats, enjoy the fresh air, and meet some pretty interesting folks.
  2. Sign up for community supported agriculture (CSA): CSAs are genius.  Members help front the farming costs in advance and then receive products throughout the duration of the season.  Local farmers obtain financial support and business, and members get healthy fruits and veggies.  Even better, with the diverse assortment you’ll find in your basket each week or two, you’ll likely whip up funky dishes you may never have otherwise attempted.
  3. Ask for local meat and produce at your grocery store: Most grocery stores have specific sections that are devoted to (and clearly labeled as) local goods.  If not, just ask the store manager, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.
  4. Research local farms online, and go visit them: If you spend just a little bit of time researching farms in your area, I guarantee you will be amazed at how many are nearby.  Not only will you find a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses, but you’ll likely also learn about some cool activities these farms offer.  Anyone interested in joining me for a goat cheese making class?  How about a wine and cheese tasting?
  5. Identify a nonprofit organization that supports local commerce in your community: These groups’ missions are to support neighborhood businesses, and they should be able to readily point you to some local farmers.  In Charleston, Lowcountry Local First is a valuable asset for local entrepreneurs, as well as the city’s residents.
  6. Dine at restaurants that serve local foods: Put your money where your mouth is.  If you want to support local farmers, ask them which restaurants carry their products, and make reservations to dine there.  Then provide positive feedback by chatting with the manager before you leave, or posting good reviews online after you get home.
  7. Inquire as to whether your favorite restaurants serve local foods, and if they don’t, request it: This is key.  Restaurants listen to their customers.  It is that old theory of supply and demand you learned about in economics class.  If restaurants get enough requests for local cuisine offerings, they will eventually start serving it.

Do you support local business in your community?  If so, why do you think it is important?  Do you have some tips of your own?


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