Why Buy Local
Local food systems, made up of local farms, farmers markets, and community gardens, often times increase the availability of healthy food items in a community and encourage consumers to make healthier food choices. Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown or raised enables you to choose food that was raised in a way that aligns with your values and budget-- whether you believe in grass-fed, grain-fed, integrated pest management or certified organic. Below is our list of our top 7 facts on the food system on how buying local impacts the health and well-being of your local community, economy, and ecosystem.
1. If Central Illinois consumers spent just $10 of their weekly grocery budget on locally-grown Illinois products, $47 Million would be re-invested in the Illinois economy each week. That's almost $2.5 BILLION each year. (Illinois Department of Agriculture)
2. Illinois contains some of the richest farm ground in the world, yet we import about 96% of our food, meaning that 96% of our food dollars are being exported and not staying with in our local economies. (Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Report, pg. 7).
3. A 20 percent increase in local production, processing, and purchasing will generate $20 to $30 BILLION of new economic activity annually within Illinois’ borders and create thousands of new jobs. (Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Report, pg. 12).
4. The U.S. family farm industry has witnessed the loss of over 4 million farmers since 1935, with numbers continuing to decline every year. That means less family farms living in our communities and more industrial farming and corporations shipping our food from thousands of miles away. Buying direct from local farms means keeping more farmers on the land, serving our communities for the years to come. (USDA, Economic Research Service).
5. Studies show the nutrient value of fruits and vegetables is significantly higher when they are picked ripe and nutritional value diminishes substantially after harvest. That’s a problem when most produce in the U.S. is harvested before it is fully ripe and travels an average of 1500 miles to get to your plate, which generally takes between 4 and 7 days, compromising freshness, flavor, and nutritional value along the way. (100 Days of Real Food)
6. In fact, your average fresh vegetable loses up to 45% of its nutritional value between being picked and landing on a grocery store shelf. That’s not a problem when you buy from your local farmer whose products have generally been picked within 24 hours.
7. When you shop at a grocery store, only 14.6 cents of every dollars goes back to the farmer. When you buy directly from your local farmer, they get 100% of every dollar, increasing their economic viability so that they can continue to farm year after year. (National Farmers Union).