Why and how to shop locally

Ride your bike when shopping to earn extra happy-planet points.

Ride your bike when shopping to earn extra happy-planet points.

Shopping locally is something I have become increasingly passionate about in my old age. I used to only have a peripheral interest in things like food miles, supporting local farmers and the real cost of food but about a year ago it was suddenly as if the universe was beating me across the face (lovingly, of course) with messages about the importance of shopping locally. I figured I should start listening (because who am I to argue with the universe?)

Organic, locally grown food can seem expensive at first glance but what you’re seeing is the true cost of food. It freaks me out that we can buy asparagus all year ’round and that it has usually been flown in from some far-flung corner of the world to get to the supermarket shelves, and it’s still only $3 a bunch. The cost of transport alone is more than that, never mind paying people to grow it, pick and pack it, and shelve it. It’s ridiculous and, while we might save 50c at the checkout, the cost to our health and our environment is huge. Food that is shipped to us in cold-store is also nutrient poor and tasteless. For a bit extra you can get fresh and tasty asparagus that is chockers with nutrients and grown by someone in your area.

When I first decided to ditch the supermarket, I had visions of me spending my whole weekend trooping from one farmers market to the next in order to stock my fridge. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for putting in the effort to ensure my health is top notch but I also put a high value on my spare time and want to maximise it wherever I can. I did some research and discovered CERES Fair Food, who, in their words, are “an organic food delivery service and online grocer, providing Melbourne with the freshest seasonal organic fruits, vegetables, and other organic groceries, all sourced from our network local farmers and artisans. We pay farmers a fair price for their sustainably grown food, delivering fair food boxes of certified organic fruits, vegetables and other groceries such as bread, free range eggs and bio-dynamic milk to households across Melbourne.”

The biggest benefit of CERES Fair Food is that you can choose to have your fruit and veg box dropped at a designated house in your suburb so you can pick it up after work. This suited me perfectly because I live in an apartment and don’t really have anywhere safe for a box to be dropped off. They have also introduced a feature that gives you a good idea about what goodies will be in your box, so you can decide if it will meet your week’s recipe needs. If you prefer for your box to be dropped to your door, there are tonnes of companies that offer this service. A quick Google search will bring back companies that operate in your area.

If you are fortunate enough to be in an area that has frequent markets and/or good quality grocers, then I recommend canning your weekly Woolies trip and checking out the smaller guys instead. You’ll get to know the people who grow your food and get the feel-good fuzzies that come with knowing you’re helping to support your local community in a tangible way. I also get a kick out of seeing so many vibrantly healthy people in my local organic grocer. The people that shop there are relaxed and happy. I don’t know about you but ‘relaxed and happy’ is not how I would describe the general supermarket crowd. There’s something about isles full of processed food and harsh fluorescent lighting that just puts you in a funk!

It’s also much less confusing when you start switching highly marketed food for the real stuff. There will be no more need for you to stand in the isle comparing the sugar content of one loaf of bread to another because you will know it is all high quality and made with your health in mind.

If you’re starting to get fed up with the quality (or lack thereof) of supermarket produce and meat, then it might time to stick your head into that little organic grocer down the road. You’ll be greeted with a friendly face, I promise!


2 thoughts on “Why and how to shop locally

  1. The Editors of Garden Variety says:

    Great post, Laura, and LOVE the photo. Nothing like knowing where you food comes from and supporting the local economy. 🙂


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