By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau
So you want to purchase more locally-based products, but concerned about cost and availability? As communities around the country jump on the “local” bandwagon, shoppers are wondering just how they can purchase locally, especially when it comes to food.
Take heart. It’s not as hard as you might think. The key is to plan and know where to shop. Plus, dedicate only a percentage of your purchases; you don’t have to commit your entire food budget to local foods.
A study was recently completed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that examined the spending patterns of residents and businesses. The study determined if all 600,000 people in Grand Rapids simply shifted 10% of their spending from national to local businesses, the result would be 1,600 new jobs, an additional $130 million invested in the local economy and an increase of $50 million in local wages within one year.
So how do we dedicate a portion of our food budget to local food, especially if we want to shift about 5% to 10% of our food dollars? A few simple strategies lead the way.
- First, determine those food items that might be easiest to buy locally. Usually fresh produce is a food category that has potential in the local market.
- Remember where local is often made available for farm fresh produce: Farmers’ Markets. Go to www.fillyourplate.org and look for the tab labeled Find a Farmers’ Market. Currently Fill Your Plate lists 74 Farmers’ Markets in Arizona.
- Connect with local farmers that will sell directly to you and me. Again, the most comprehensive listing of Arizona farmers and ranchers can be found at www.fillyourplate.org.
- Ask the grocery stores you shop at what food items are local. Several stores are beginning to highlight local such as Bashas, and even Wal Mart.
- Talk to neighbors and friends where they shop for local food products.
- Plus, know that approximately 98% of milk in Arizona is local and gets on store shelves within 24 to 48 hours of milking.
- Additionally, find stores that sell Hickman Family Farm eggs. They’re Arizona’s only commercial egg producer in the state and they’re farm fresh!
Local First Arizona recently launched an initiative encouraging Arizona families to buy local. “The 10% Shift”, a campaign aimed at strengthening the local economy, increasing civic pride, and changing consumer buying patterns to increase the economic and cultural sustainability of the region.
Arizona Farm Bureau is partnered with Local First Arizona to get the message out. Remember buying local is easier than you think. You just need to have strategy and a few tips to find the items you want.