Buy Local is an emerging American mega-trend driven by consumers discovering how their purchasing power can create local jobs and community solutions. The farmer’s market is the tip of the spear of the Buy Local movement. The USDA reports that the number of farmer markets has exploded from less than 2,000 in 1994 to over 7,000 today!
In response large food chains are now Buying Local. Whole Foods is the recognized market-segment leader having crafted their brand to reflect their local supply chain practices. Best practices for growing a locally sourced supply-chain are now emerging as an food industry standard. For example, Walmart’s Heritage Agriculture program seeks farms within a day’s drive of one of its warehouses to grow crops to supply the warehouses’ local stores.
A growing percentage of this locally supplied food is also organic. The Organic Trade Association reports that U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. Organic farmland now exceeds 5 million acres in 45 states.
Here are the six reasons consumers are buying local food:
Taste. Local food tastes better offering a richer and more complex experience. Intuitively, Nell Newman of Newman’s Own Organic has as her company’s motto “Great tasting food that happens to be organic.” Our bodies naturally crave the salts and sugars lacing processed foods but our palettes respond to variety and complexity. Imagine trying to eat one of those tomatoes on a fast food sandwich if the overall sandwich wasn’t loaded with artificial flavorings! Our tastes prefer heirloom tomatoes.
Cheaper! Why have the total number of farmer markets grown 400% percent? Consumers have discovered they can eat for less buying local! The slow food movement is challenging all of us (and the food industry) to budget $5 per meal by buying locally produced food.
Healthier. Super Size Me is a graphic video on what eating manufactured fast foods can do to your body. Emerging medical evidence is now documenting that eating processed foods is linked to our national diabetes epidemic. The Harvard School of Public Health has published a study that finds eating just two ounces of hotdogs per day increases the risk of diabetes by 50%! This study recommends
…that consumption of processed red meat—like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and deli meats, which generally have high levels of sodium and nitrites—should be minimized and unprocessed red meat should be reduced. If possible, they add, red meat should be replaced with healthier choices, such as nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, or beans.
Job Growth. Buy Local creates local jobs. American consumers have $10 trillion of annual buying power, larger than China’s entire annual Domestic Gross Production. The American consumer, without any government policies or programs, has the ability to restore full employment through their purchases. For example, Americans will buy 13 million cars this year. If the American consumer bought 13 million American-made electric hybrid cars this act alone would reduce unemployment to 5% from today’s 9+%!
Greener. The average chemically grown and processed food travels 1500 miles to arrive on your plate. For example, one study in Iowa found that the milk, sugar, and strawberries that go into a carton of strawberry yogurt collectively journeyed 2,211 miles just to get to the processing plant. That is wasteful and unsustainable. Buy Local is lean in its manufacture and delivery. Buy Local is a key part of the solution for restoring our environment.
Profitable. In the following video interview, Nell Newman of Newman’s Own Organic outlines the superior sale growth being achieved by organic food products even in the face of our current economy and the challenge (business opportunity!) of supply keeping pace with the growing demand by consumers for organic food. This is also a must watch video for entrepreneurs as she talks about her entrepreneurial best practices for successfully growing a business including how she has linked her sales to charitable contributions that have propelled her brand, and others brands like Give Something Back, to industry-leading levels of consumer loyalty.
Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017 a company that crafts unique workshops that enable businesses to connect with customers seeking smart, healthy and green solutions. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles the best practices of businesses and entrepreneurs for making money and a difference. In 2011 he is implementing an 11-city coaching program called Green Builds Business that was created by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation with funding from Walmart that is helping local businesses create jobs, profits and community benefits.