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Buying Local - Why It's Important

Buying Local - Why It's Important

Buying Local - Why It's Important

Buying Local is all over the news at the moment.
There are programs on it, articles written about it and many, many celebrities endorsing it.
People have excuses as to why they don't shop local: It's more expensive or they don't have the time to shop around.
Well things are changing. I do it but why should you?

I have fond memories of shopping with my mother on a Saturday when I was young.
We'd walk the mile or so into the town centre pulling our shopping cart behind us and when we got there we would go to the small supermarket, then visit the butcher, the greengrocer on the market, Woolworths (for pick-and-mix) and lastly we would stop in at the bakery.
This was the highlight of the morning, picking up a freshly baked loaf and a couple of sausage rolls, still hot from the oven. We would then walk home happy and in anticipation of devouring our sausage rolls as our Saturday morning treat.
That was then and what great memories they still are.

Sadly that kind of shopping doesn't happen a lot anymore. 
Cars became affordable and so the walking part stopped. Supermarkets got bigger, carried more stock, were cheaper and became the one-stop-shop for nearly everyone. The internet made things "accessible" and time became a commodity.

Today, visits to town centre's have all but stopped as now the supermarkets are even bigger and carry just about everything you ever thought you'd need and then some.
The decline in high-street small businesses due to low traffic has been well documented and a push has started through media and other avenues to re-grow our community spirit and support local businesses.

Buying Local - Why It's Important

There's no denying that a large supermarket has it's place and one can't beat the price that supermarkets can charge for their products due to their strong buying power.
The "buy local" push hasn't been brought about by someone having a vested interest in it, it's been brought about for a number of reasons: 

There's something missing in a large supermarket, the personal touch is one that comes to mind immediately. When was the last time you asked for, and got, good solid and friendly advice from the supermarket butcher or greengrocer?

The community spirit is lacking in a supermarket, no one looks up, no one says hello, everyone is in their own world and for the most part it's all a bit clinical and hostile.
Walk in to your local butchers and you're likely to be met with the smiling and welcome back attitude that we'd all like to see a lot more of.

The quality, which no one can deny is good in a supermarket, seems almost too perfect to me. I want tomatoes to look like and smell like tomatoes even if that means that they are all different shapes and sizes. I also want my bread to go mouldy after 2 days so I know to throw it out rather than still look fresh after sitting out on the counter for a week. 

You can't deny that supermarkets have got it right but is that what we want anymore?

Buying Local - Why It's Important

When I moved to France I was of the one-stop-shop mind. 
Coming from Canada, at least where I lived at the time, there wasn't much choice in terms of where one purchased one's produce.
That type of shopping is available in France but it isn't readily used for all aspects of shopping.  

Love 'em or hate 'em, the French like good food and they don't suffer bad produce lightly.
They like to poke, prod and smell their produce. They like to have a conversation (often for a long time while others wait behind) with the seller about the price, the product or just the weather.
Of course it wouldn't be France if they didn't shrug their shoulders and complain that something wasn't right before heading off in the direction of their next prey.

To shop in France is an art form. Market day is a popular day with the best butchers, fish mongers and greengrocers having the longest line ups.
Many shoppers will jump in their car and drive a fair distance to find what they perceive to be the best.
To even think about buying meat from a supermarket will result in a disapproving shake of the head from most and everyone has a beaten up old woven shopping bag that they carry with pride.

Originally I went to the market because it was France and that was what one did. I bought a beautiful shopping bag that I strategically placed bought items in, baguette peeking out the top and the green stalks of a leek standing up along side.
Oh it was very French. Then i'd go to the supermarket and buy my weekly groceries!  

Thing is, now that i've been here a while, I get it.
Don't get me wrong, the produce from the supermarket is great but the taste of the produce from individual sellers plus the ambience and hands on approach takes the other stuff to a different level.

Maybe it's because I live in a small village where a lot of people raise animals and grow veg to sell at the local market. It's their livelihood, they won't be millionaires but they smile and welcome me (sometimes) when I go to their stall. 
I feel like i'm supporting them and I feel proud of that. It's important to help others who are just trying to do their best to earn a living and also I know where everything comes from. 

Buying Local - Why It's Important

Farmers markets around the world are often more expensive than supermarkets, (who can compete with that kind of buying power) but people are starting to use them more and more, preferring to give their money to a smaller business and keep them alive. 

Farmers markets are bustling places with lots of people all with the same values - good quality produce.
Kids chow down on fresh fruit of the season often unwashed but none get sick.
Artisans sell homemade pies and sausages which are then taken home for lunch or a special dinner and the local wine maker brings their wares for you to taste and buy often at lower prices than in stores.

The local farmer stopped by the other day to ask if I wanted to buy some of his beef.
He has his cows in the fields near us and I felt a strong need to be part of the community and help him out. He works his ass off every single day, rain or shine.
The beef was more expensive than you'd find in the supermarket but I knew where it was from and how it had been reared. It was the best beef I ever had and i'm glad I bought it. I just don't want to know which cow it was.

Buying Local - Why It's Important

Dairy farmers in the UK are in the news at the moment as supermarkets are keeping the cost of milk so low that many are being forced to sell up and move on. Shame! 

There are 2 small dairy farmers in our village who sell their milk to a cooperative as they only have a small production and on principal that's where I buy my milk.
The cost difference is negligible to my overall weekly food budget.

So, Buying Local. Why is it important?
Because there are a million other farmers, growers and artisans out there that need support from their neighbors and for the most part what you are buying is healthier, tastier and fresher than anything else you'll buy in the supermarket.
If you don’t have the time to shop local take the time and the family for a trip to the local farmers market or farm shop on the weekend to shop for something special for dinner.

I'm not dishing supermarkets, I still buy things at the supermarket but there's something about going out to buy bread or cheese or vegetables from different sellers that takes me back to the uncomplicated days.
I'm certainly healthier than I have been in years (or is that just the amount of wine I drink?)
Now if I could just teach the French how to make a good sausage roll i'd be happy.

 

Lou Messugo

Comments

Love this post! I couldn't agree with you more, which is why I buy local as much as I can. ANd whenever I find great resources I share them with others. But sometimes it's hard because our budget is super tight. But just last week I came across a farm giving away free veggie plants to anyone who wants them. There were almost a 100 plants so I took as many as I could fit and told as many other people as I could about this awesome farm & what it was offering.

di's picture

Good find on the veggie plant front, I think it's great that we can do that when we have extra. I love giving back, makes my day a little bighter.

Great post! Thanks for sharing on the Healthy Living Link Party.

I love this post! I shop local whenever I can! The food taste fresher and it's more fun when you chat with the farmer's/vendors about their products. Something that has been lost over the years. Thanks for sharing on healthy living link party.

This is simply beautiful, so lovely ideas, pictures and words. I love the pic of the couple behind the flowers in the stall...such expression.

Thanks for sharing and so happy I found The Sommelier Chef through #AllAboutFrance!

Yes, we should all be buying local. One idea I really like is the 'panier bio', in which you pick up a basket of organic veggies once a week from a local producer. The produce varies according to the season, so it's a great way of discovering vegetables you wouldn't otherwise buy.
And yes, I wish my baker would make 'proper' sausage rolls. Pork pies. Cream doughnuts. Iced buns...

Buying locally is one of the things I love the most about France. They make it so easy. The local markets, boulangeries, seafood stores......The fact that they have regional foods, and approved origin legislation means that everything, even wine, is local. When we are in France, we just spend so much time in markets,buying locally made, or locally produced foods. Great article. #allaboutfrance

Quite right! I think the French are interesting because they are masters both of the hypermarché and the local market. I am often baffled by how the two co-exist...

Emily makes a good point, the French are masters of both shopping locally and enormous out of town hypermarchés and both do well. I think we're lucky in France how much easier it is to shop locally. My town has a thriving high street and I rarely go anywhere else. I also have subscribed to local veggie box schemes to support local producers. It's about finding a balance between the convenience of shopping on line and in the big supermarkets and supporting local business. If only everyone would do a little more of the local stuff that would be a step in the right direction. Thanks for linking this to #AllAboutFranceyou make a very important and topical point.

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