The “buy local” movement is on the rise. In many cities you can find initiative organizations popping up bringing together local farmers and consumers. In the grocery store there are products marked as “from the region”. The demand for farmer’s markets is increasing at a steady rate.
This is a great idea! There are so many reasons to buy local (which I’ll get into a little further down). When you are in your own city it’s relatively easy to figure out where and how to get the local products. When you’re traveling, however, it may not be quite so simple. There are a few reasons that it can be difficult to buy local (especially including food) when traveling. Maybe…
You simply don’t know what are the local products.
You don’t know where to find local products.
You don’t speak the language and therefore even if a product were marked as local you wouldn’t know.
You’re on a budget and familiar chains like McDonald’s or Burger King fit into your price range.
While all of these points may be valid, there are so many reasons to buy local products, not only for residents but also for travelers!
1. Local food teaches you about the culture and traditions.
Buying and eating local produce, meats, cheeses, etc. is the absolute perfect way to learn about the place you are visiting. In many cultures, there are few things more indicative to their traditions than cuisine, which are deeply rooted in the experiences of generations past.
When I first learned that Jamon in Spain was a salted leg of pork mounted in the kitchen for weeks at a time I was quite concerned… Was I really going to eat this piece of meat that my Spanish friend just shaved off an unrefrigerated hunk of meat? But I’m so glad I did! Jamon is delicious and absolutely at the heart of the Spanish culture.
2. Local food is fresher!
Eating what has been recently pulled from the ground or plucked from a tree pretty much ensures you’re going to get a fresh, nutritious, delicious experience. I’ll never forget how much flavor was in tomatoes and cucumbers bought at the Serbian market in the summertime.
3. Local (and seasonal) food can be less expensive.
Buying products that are in season and locally grown cuts a lot of costs: transportation, storage, preservation, etc. If you head to a local market in the summertime, look for salad vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, peppers and tomatoes. In the fall, more hearty options such as cabbage, beets, Brussels sprouts and squashes will be in season.
4. Local food supports the local economy.
Buying local gives security to farmers that they can continue producing local. By supporting the local economy, you can ensure that these cultural traditions won’t be substituted by a big company who imports their products from the developing countries (in which many times the labor force there is exploited).