As a nutrition coach one of the conversations I have with clients often is about the importance of buying local meat and produce. With super markets offering prices so low that they’re almost giving food away and all of the fear and anxiety around the economy and other worldly distractions it seems a no brainer to buy the cheapest food possible. But are you really getting your dollars worth?
Besides helping the local business get by you might be wondering how else buying local can actually help your community. First of all we have to look at the products themselves. When we buy from the grocery store, particularly foods like meat and produce what exactly are we getting? It turns out that 99% of the meat, poultry and seafood at a super market is actually from concentrated animal feeding operations or farming operations in the sea. The animals are treated pretty poorly and by the time the food hits your plate it’s been washed and sprayed with so many chemicals it’s hard to believe it’s even legal to serve it. The nutrient quality is also significantly lessened, with the different between grass-fed beef (locally raised, provided by butchers and markets) and grain-fed beef (supermarket quality) comparable to a homemade meal and a Big Mac Combo at McDonald’s.
Produce isn’t much better, with most products being so old and dead that their nutrient quality is incredibly questionable. Being exposed to bright, super market lights and open air really lowers the quality of the food, most times being nearly rotten by the time you take it home.
Outside of losing food quality and the ethical concerns of how the animals were treated we also have to ask how the environment is being affected by these big chain operations. Concentrated animal feeding operations created thousands of tonnes of manure every year, a good portion of which seeps into the soil and ultimately into our water supplies. Many other toxins such as chemicals and pesticides are used in large operations, all of which affects the ecosystem. On the other hand when local farms are built, the soil can actually absorb much of the carbon in the air, restoring balance and proper oxygen levels in the air.
Sometimes our first reaction to hearing about all of these scary problems is to hide away, try to forget it and go on with our day. Our first thought might be that the damage is already done and what can we really do? We’re just one person, or even a group of small people but the answer is in our dollars. When we buy meat at a butcher, pick up produce at a market or even visit a local farm we are putting our money into their businesses, showing the economy what’s important to us. When we support the small businesses who have the right morals and values in alignment with the greater good of our community we are not only making change possible, we are making it happen.
As Margaret Mead so eloquently put it, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
By Ricky Goodall, Meditation Instructor & Certified Nutrition Coach