Reason No. 4 to Buy Locally

You Help the Environment

From our red rocks and turquoise skies of southern Utah, to the snowy peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, from the desert of Great Basin, to the lush greens of Cache Valley, and the otherwordliness of the Salt Flats, Utah is quite simply a land beyond compare.

It’s important as citizens that we serve as good stewards of the land we have the privilege of temporarily occupying. Some may disagree about precisely what that stewardship looks like, but one thing is certain: Buying locally is good for the environment.

Consider our food sources: It’s easy, when strolling down the brightly lit aisles of a massive grocery store chain to forget the where food we put on our dinner tables each night grows. Plus, there are so many opinions about what’s healthy, what isn’t, who benefits, and on and on and on ... Making the decision to buy locally quiets that noise.  

There are far more options for buying your food locally than you might imagine. Start by shopping at a locally owned grocery store. Harmon’s, Lee’s Marketplace, Glazier’s (in Kanab), or The Store, are locally owned options, just to name a few.

Next, look for local options on the grocery store shelves. Harmon’s is deeply committed to sourcing all kinds of local products. Many of these stores have their own in-store brand to identify locals. Plus, you can keep your eyes open for the Local First Utah logo, or the Utah’s Own brand on the store shelves, and you’ll know you’re buying a locally made or grown product.

Beyond the grocery store, consider shopping at a local farmers’ market. The farmers’ market experience is one the most impactful ways to spend your family’s food budget. Every dollar you spend at a local market goes right into the hands of a farmer or artisan. Your hard earned money becomes their hard earned money. (And, many of our local markets accept SNAP, and offer the “Double Up Food Bucks” program, which expands a customer’s buying power at the market.)

You can find heirloom fruits and vegetables, designed by nature to thrive in our ecosystem, or prepared goods that represent the knowledge and traditions from dozens of different cultures, ranging from Middle Eastern to Argentinian, to Haitian, who have all come to call Utah home.

Certainly the Downtown Farmers Market, and its sister, the Winter Market, offer a rich variety of goods in Salt Lake City, but don’t forget markets like the Liberty Park Market, and Sugarhouse Market. Plus, there are local markets in Cedar City, St. George, Moab, Price, Provo and Logan. Odds are, no matter where you are in Utah, there is a local farmers’ market near you.

Sure, sure, local food is great, but how does it help the environment?

There are two key factors: First, small farming, cultivation, and water usage practices are better than those of Big Ag. Small farmers and ranchers are able to tailor their crops and herds to microclimates in our state. A pepper that thrives in St. George, may not do so well in Logan. The well-maintained herds that Canyon Meadows Ranch oversees to produce some of the best beef in the state near Altamont, might not fair so well in the West Desert. It’s easy to drive through Utah and think “what grows here?” These small farms and ranchers have the knowledge and ingenuity to prove that thought wrong.

Second, when food is grown locally, usually defined as being within 200 miles of your home, your food has a significantly smaller carbon footprint. The big rigs used to brings us California tomatoes, also add to the increase of greenhouse gases, pollute the environment, and accelerating the rate of climate change.

This doesn’t mean that you have to eat exclusively locally grown food forever. (Avocado toast, amirite?) But, selecting easy to find local products like peaches, cherries, berries, carrots, leafy greens, tomatillos, etc helps balance the impact of items like bananas and dates and other delicious treats that Utah’s climate will never grow.

So, if you’re not already eating locally, give it a try! Farmers’ market season is nearly upon us, and you’ll have all summer long to gear up for the Eat Local Week Challenge!

Stay tuned, for our next Reason No. 4 Blog: The Carbon Footprint of Your Amazon Prime Account.

Kristen Lavelett