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Sep 12 2012

Day Four: SHOP Local

We've asked you to PARTY, EAT, and DRINK Local. Now, it's time to SHOP. (And you thought Support Local Week was going to be hard.) 

Let's start with a vocabulary lesson. If you're like us, you hear terms and acronyms thrown around, but don't know exactly what they mean. 

  • Farmer's Market (or Green Market): Where farmers sell their products directly to consumers. Probably the most "no duh" term in the list, but here's a great resource for you: The Fresh Food Finder. It's an app that enables you to find markets within a city, state, or zip code.
  • Co-op: A jointly owned commercial enterprise (usually organized by farmers and consumers) that produces and distributes goods and services and is run for the benefit of its owners. The Common Market here in Frederick is a co-op and you can learn about becoming an owner there at our Local Bazaar this Saturday
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A system in which consumers receive food directly from the farmers who produce it. But unlike a farmer's market system, consumers pay in advance for a portion of that farmer's crop, thus, sharing the yield risk of each harvest. (Local Harvest can help you find the CSA nearest you.)

One of the biggest obstacles small farmers face is finding retailers who are willing to sell their products. Most mass-market retailers do not want to deal with the limited production volumes and less predictable supply of small, local farms. 

According to a study by the National Cooperative Grocers Association, conventional grocery stores source slightly less than 6% of its food from local sources. But an average co-op purchases almost 20% of its products locally. Plus, "for every $1,000 a shopper spends at their local food co-op, $1,604 dollars in economic activity is generated in their local economy -- $239 more than if they had spent that same $1,000 at a conventional grocery store in the same community." And when you shop at your local farmer's market or join a CSA, the economic impact is immediate and 100%. 

Vocabulary and statistics aside, we understand that your budget is what matters most to you. And taking the local leap may seem like it will make that Mint account go mad. What we recommend is figuring out what items are most important to you to buy local and determine your budget from there. Our post earlier this week on eating local may help

Know more resources that help you SHOP Local? We’d love to hear them. Post your thoughts on our Facebook page or give us a shout on Twitter