When we speak of local food, we are referring to products which are grown locally, or in the region where we reside. The idea of sticking to local food, and avoiding imported food is not a new one, but something that was brought in and promoted decades ago. And still, in present times, there are many people who stick to it. And this idea sprung up for some good reasons; main ones being that buying local food supports economic growth of the nation, it improves the social health of a particular place, and are more eco-friendly. However, the bandwagon of local food also entails a few disadvantages, which probably, many are still unaware of.
The Downsides of Local Food
# One of the greatest disadvantages of buying food that is grown locally is burning holes in the pocket. Local food, needless to say, is a pricey affair. This can be understood from the standard of living of local farmers. Most of them do not have businesses such as that of retail food supply stores. Also, most local farmers are family oriented, and so selling their goods at lower prices is definitely not a profitable deal for them. And that is why, local food, when compared to what you can get from grocery store is more expensive.
# Another important factor which may discourage most people to be more inclined towards supporting local food, is the factor of convenience. It may be obvious to state that going for grocery shopping in a local retail store is more convenient than sweating out in the farmers' market. To add to this, you may not check against all the food items in your shopping list in the market. So probably, you would have to buy some stuffs from the market, and some from the grocery store. And there is no saying on how would it be going to a farmer's farm to buy what you wish to, in case he does not show up at the market.
# Sticking to buying local food may help in making the region socially and economically sound, but speaking in global terms, it might be actually disadvantageous. For instance, if we consider poor countries, they export mostly fruits and vegetables. So if the entire population in the West avoid buying imported fruits such as banana or mangoes, or other vegetables, then it might affect such countries. So, one of the possible repercussions of this may occur in the form of these countries abandoning production of fruits and vegetables and resorting to growing products like coffee, or beef. This in turn, would cause the price of healthy fruits and vegetables to soar, and the price of less healthy foods to go down.
# There is no denial to the fact that locally, all varieties of food cannot be grown, and supplied to the consumers. The strawberries that you get in the middle of winter, or the pumpkins that you enjoy in Easter are not grown locally, but are imported. This is because, such foods cannot be grown in such seasons. So the bottom line is, sticking only to local goods, means compromising to the wide variety of foods which otherwise, you could have enjoyed if you had supported imported foods. And this, in turn, would force you to buy more from local markets, paying much more than what you would have for the imported items.
# And another concern, that may surface with local food, is the subject of regulation or certification. Most farmers owing small farms are not regulated thus, you may never be sure if what they label as organic fruits or vegetables, are really organic or not.
# Buying local food and its disadvantages may make more sense to people living in colder climates like Iceland. In such areas, if people happen to support local farming, then they may not have a healthy lifestyle.
The above points on local food and its downsides do not in any way, mean to discourage you from buying food items grown and supplied locally. Given the fact that it helps in improving the economic stability of the region, the idea of local food cannot be disregarded. But at the same time, the fact that imported foods make sure that you get to eat your natural diet anywhere, and at anytime of the year, cannot be denigrated. So the best thing to do is to buy local grubs when they are in season, and then go for imported ones when local food supply becomes scarce thus, keeping a balance. Adios!