How to Buy Local Food

Locally produced crops, meat, dairy products and baked goods are often fresher, healthier and heartier than crops that must be shipped from distant locations. Since shipping costs are not usually a factor, buying local can also help you lower your food budget. Additionally, keeping your food purchases within your community can improve your local economy. Organized planning and thorough research are necessary to buy local food. Once you connect with a network of suppliers you will usually be able to customize a convenient food buying process.


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    Review online directories, phone books and public fliers looking for farms offering food for sale, and local butcher shops, bakeries and other food suppliers.
    • Some areas have food cooperatives where you can collectively purchase local food with other buyers. This drives prices down since you can buy in large quantities, and it also allows you the convenience of being able to shop for all your food items in a single supermarket-like environment.
    • Locally-owned ethnic food stores are often easily accessible sources of high-quality, locally-produced food.
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    Visit local farmers markets to purchase seasonal produce and other foods.
    • If you find a producer with whom you are satisfied, ask about making arrangements to purchase food on a year-round basis. Many farmers may be able to provide more food than what they have displayed on a particular day at the farmer's market.
    • Farmers may also be able to provide information on how to best store, cook and prepare the food they sell, especially if you are purchasing something you've never tried before.
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    Learn which food items are available during specific seasons in your area and how to preserve foods.
    • Those who exclusively buy locally are not able to have any type of food they desire available year-round. Often they must purchase only seasonal produce, and must stock up on meat during certain times of the year when animals are slaughtered. In order to prolong the amount of time you have to consume your food, invest in a stand-alone freezer and learn how to can and dehydrate produce.


  • Many small, local food producers provide organic products but do not have the means to have the organic certification from the Food and Drug Administration. If having organic food is important to you, pay attention to information provided by the food producer, and if necessary your own observations of their production methods, rather than the "certified organic" label.


  • While most local producers are fair with their pricing and selection process, some may unethically take advantage of customers who are unfamiliar with purchasing local food. Make sure you converse with several suppliers and gain an understanding of typical pricing, as well as how to identify high- and low-quality food.

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Categories: Food Selection and Storage