The benefits of buying locally produced food in South AfricaJanuary 1, 2019
As a growing movement across South Africa, locally produced food offers countless benefits. More consumers are making the choice to buy food from local food producers. Even if it’s just a portion of their weekly grocery supply.
There are huge benefits to buying locally grown food in South Africa. Each person makes their choice for different reasons. Locally grown food creates important economic opportunities, retains wealth in communities, provides health benefits and helps to reduce environmental impact. It also helps bring the community together. It gives people the opportunity to make a difference.
Additionally, many people feel local food tastes better. They also find peace of mind knowing exactly where their food comes from and how it is grown. For others, supporting community economics and building relationships with local food producers is incredibly important. As is protecting the environment.
Whatever the reason, it is an important movement to support within your community.
WHAT IS LOCALLY GROWN FOOD?
Locally grown food is a broad term that describes food that was grown within a geographical region of South Africa, that could be considered local to your particular area. Whether it’s within your region, city, neighborhood or even your own backyard, locally grown food can take many forms. At Growzit, South Africa’s online farmers market, we allow customers to browse nearby stalls within 40kms, ensuring that your food purchases are all from your local food producers.
WHAT KINDS OF FOOD CAN YOU BUY LOCALLY?
Locally grown food can be dairy products and eggs, produce like fruits and vegetables, or even locally raised meats.
Most often, the food you’ll purchase from local producers will be food that’s in season such as seasonal fruits and vegetables. Other local food producers can grow certain types of foods year round with help from greenhouses or orchards.
Other popular foods to purchase locally include dairy products, like milk and cheese from cows or goats. Local, organic and farm fresh eggs are another food that families pick up at farmers’ markets dotted around South Africa. You can even buy specialty foods like honey, nut butters or canned foods from local markets and producers.
As concerns grow over the sustainability of meat production, many families are choosing to purchase their meats from local producers. Whether it’s chicken, pork, beef or lamb, locally raised meat is often hormone and preservative free. A very appealing quality to many health-conscious individuals.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF LOCALLY GROWN FOOD
When we look at the countless benefits of buying locally grown food in South Africa, it’s easy to see why individuals and families are making it a staple part of their diet. Locally grown food provides several benefits:
It’s Often Pesticide Free:
Many local food producers choose to use organic and natural pest repellants to preserve the health of the food they distribute. Foods produced by large-scale agricultural operations are often mass sprayed with pesticides.
It’s Preservative Free:
Locally grown food doesn’t require long trips to be transported across the country until they reach their final destination. For this reason, food doesn’t need to have any preservatives and other chemicals added to it. It will still keep fresh in transit due to the short trips.
It Offers Improved Nutrition:
Eating locally grown food can help deliver a high-nutrient content. This is for a number of reasons, which includes the lack of chemicals as well as greater freshness. Local food is also a better way to ensure you eat seasonally. When you eat food that is grown within its natural season, the flavors are much fuller and it tastes better.
It Supports Diet-Related Conditions:
For people with food sensitivities to preservatives, hormones or other food chemicals, locally grown food is a great option. Locally grown food can help support any possible digestion issues that people with food allergies may experience with other types of food.
It Encourages Eating a Well-Balanced Diet:
When you choose to buy locally grown food, you can incorporate more healthy proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet. Which is a much healthier option as opposed to choosing processed and packaged foods that don’t provide a balanced diet.
It Improves Food Safety:
Food safety is another growing concern, especially for families with young children and seniors. Food safety refers to a food’s level of contamination risk. With imported food, it can pass through several different hands before it reaches your kitchen, increasing the chance of contamination.
The more steps between you and your food supply, the greater the risk of food contamination. Buying directly from local producers reduces the risk of eating unsafe food.
Buying locally grown food can help support your local economy in the following ways:
It Keeps Money in Your Community:
When you choose to spend money on locally grown food, it keeps your money in your community. Instead of supporting large supermarket chains, you can support individuals in your own community and help them prosper.
Local Farmers Keep More Profit:
Because local farmers don’t have the same transportation and distribution costs as large agricultural businesses, they can retain more of the profits. This helps small farming businesses become more successful as more people purchase from them.
It Creates Jobs
Small local farms are also excellent for the economy because they create jobs. You directly contribute to helping your friends, neighbors and other community members find sustainable employment by supporting local food producers.
It Supplies Other Local Businesses
Local food producers can supply their meat and produce to other local businesses, such as restaurants, schools and hospitals. Many people today choose to eat at particular restaurants because they use local food. In turn, restaurants become more successful and further grow the local farming economy.
It Keeps Taxes Down
Local farm operations can typically contribute more to the economy in tax revenue than they will ever use in services. Most local farm businesses aren’t dependent on social services like schools and emergency services.
Purchasing more local food provides environmental benefits, as well:
It Preserves Small Farm Land
When local farms are established, eating local protects farmland. Without small scale farms, the land might otherwise be developed for industrial or commercial use. Additionally, farmland attracts other types of biodiversity and gives animals, insects and birds a place to live and thrive.
It Reduces Food Miles
When we compare local farm grown food to imported food, the differences can be numerous. Imported food is shipped sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles to arrive at the supermarket. “Food miles” is a term used to describe the distance that food has traveled — from the place it of production to the place where it is sold to the consumer. The more food miles we accumulate during food transportation, the more more fossil fuels we consume. This transportation causes greater carbon emissions. Reducing food miles helps alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels. Furthermore it reduces air pollution and cuts back on greenhouse gas emissions. Local producers have a far smaller carbon footprint than the big businesses.
It Promotes Accountability
When you raise and grow food locally, the consumer better understands how and where their food is being produced. This awareness encourages local farmers to use sustainable agriculture practices and be more accountable to safe ecological practices. This may include not using pesticides or implementing systems that are less resource intensive than commercial agriculture. Many local food producers will actively pursue an organic certification as a means of further improving the nutritional value of their food and reducing their environmental impact.
It Preserves Genetic Diversity
Many types of farmed produce use modern commercial technologies from certain genetic strands. In small-scale farming, farmers can use a variety of produce types with lots of different colors, helping to preserve the genetic diversity of produce. Similarly, you can raise a variety of animals on a small-scale farm, which helps to enhance biodiversity and provide more options to the consumer.
SOCIAL BENEFITS OF BUYING LOCALLY PRODUCED FOOD
There are also important social and community benefits of supporting your local food producers:
It Supports Local Families:
Farming is often a family-run business. For many families, farming is more than a business — it’s a way of life that they are trying to preserve for future generations. By purchasing locally grown food, you can help your local food producers carry on their family traditions and support family development.
It Brings the Community Together:
Local farmers often develop a close network between themselves, as well as among their local buyers. As a consumer, you can purchase directly from the farmer through farmers’ markets or directly on the farm. This builds relationships among community members. This fosters a sense of belonging and togetherness within your area.
It Empowers the Consumer:
Consumers are growing increasingly concerned with where and how their food is being produced. They now have the choice to purchase food locally. They can learn more about food production directly from the farmers themselves — it’s a great learning experience for children who can develop their knowledge about food systems and agriculture.
It Encourages Cultural Diversity:
Many local farmers are beginning to specialize in producing culturally diverse foods. In order to support a wide variety of diets and cultural food customs. Producing a diverse range of food types from different heritages helps create inclusion within the community. It also encourages consumers to try and enjoy new foods.
It Improves Overall Well-being:
One of the most satisfying parts of buying local farm-grown food is knowing that you’re contributing. You’re to your community, economy and the environment. The combined benefits lead to an improved sense of well-being. A fulfillment knowing your purchases make a difference.
SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM
Choosing to purchase locally grown food is an important way to support your local economy, contribute to your community, improve your health and do your part to protect the environment. Growzit is a platform to connect local food producers directly with customers. Many of us today, including children, don’t have the same awareness about food that we did before modern agriculture practices. Because of this, people are looking to repair their detachment from food production and actively learn more about their local food economy. If you make small weekly purchases via Growzit, you will be supporting an important and sustainable market.
Going Local with Growzit
Growzit is South Africa’s online farmers market, a place where local producers and service providers can connect with local shoppers. A place where communities support each other for the common good.
Please take a few minutes enjoying browsing your local stalls.