Breaking the habit: 5 reasons why you should start shopping local

PUBLISHED: 12:30 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:30 18 August 2020

Foodari supply fresh local produce to businesses across the south of England (foodarihomedelivery.com).

Foodari supply fresh local produce to businesses across the south of England (foodarihomedelivery.com).

Archant

From saving money to helping the environment, there are many reasons to embrace shopping local

Austen's of Rochester is an award-winning farm shop specialising in Kent-based produce (austensgroup.com).Austen's of Rochester is an award-winning farm shop specialising in Kent-based produce (austensgroup.com).

We speak to Floortje Hoette, chief executive at Produced in Kent, about the benefits of shopping local.

It will save you money

Supermarkets are designed to make sure you go home with far more than you need, with UK households typically throwing away around 30 per cent of the food they purchase. When shopping locally, you often only buy what you need, meaning your household will produce far less waste. Local shops also offer more affordable seasonal produce, not to mention the money saved on travel.

“The price of local produce reflects the quality standard of production,” adds Floortje. “Think about what a £4 chicken says about animal welfare and labour costs.”

It’s better for the environment

Hinxden Farm Dairy produce and deliver dairy products to homes and businesses in Kent and East Sussex (hinxdenfarmdairy.co.uk).Hinxden Farm Dairy produce and deliver dairy products to homes and businesses in Kent and East Sussex (hinxdenfarmdairy.co.uk).

It’s not just about the smaller carbon footprint of the shoppers who walk or cycle to local shops, or the carbon miles attached to the food itself – which are negligible when you buy from the farmer next door.

Shopping local has far more significant impacts, as Floortje explains: “It’s about protecting the beautiful countryside surrounding us. If we all buy our produce from abroad, what will happen to the fields and orchards on your doorstep? If you don’t buy local, then local food isn’t required, the fields are sold to developers and the garden of England will be a garden no longer.”

Better quality food and a unique shopping experience

Kent is gifted with a climate that produces some of the best quality fruit, vegetables and meat in the world. Whether it’s meat from locally reared, grass-fed cattle, homemade preserves from a family-run farm shop, or handmade gifts from a craftsperson, local businesses offer a variety of high-quality goods that you can’t get elsewhere.

“Small businesses offer an alternative to mass-produced products,” says Floortje. “It’s higher quality, tastes better and you know where it’s coming from – plus you have direct contact with the shop owner and can often influence what they sell.”

Floortje Hoette, chief executive at Produced in Kent. Picture: Ady KerryFloortje Hoette, chief executive at Produced in Kent. Picture: Ady Kerry

Boost the local economy – and beyond

Spending money at your local shop, restaurant or pub helps to boost the local economy. This means that local businesses have more money to spend within the community – and the wealthier the community, the better the range in the shop, the longer the pub stays open, the more football lessons the local coach can offer.

“Shopping local has implications for the wider economy and society too,” adds Floortje. “It helps to provide employment, preserve the landscape, boost tourism and improve public health.”

It creates a sense of community

It doesn’t take long to get to know the local shop keeper or landlord, and who doesn’t enjoy that feeling of being part of a community? Local shops are owned by people who live nearby, which means they are more invested in the area too.

“The people you buy from are your neighbours,” says Floortje, “so there’s a real sense of community and connectivity, which is especially important in these extraordinary times.”

Produced in Kent

Produced in Kent is a membership organisation representing over 300 members of producers, growers, manufactures, retailers and hospitality businesses from across the county.

Building on their successful HelpKentBuyLocal campaign, which was launched 48 hours after lockdown began, the organisation has partnered with the South East Local Enterprise Partnership to support the local food and drink sector across Essex, Kent and Sussex during the recovery phase of Covid-19. The new initiative is called Buy Local South East.

To find out more, visit producedinkent.co.uk.

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