The ethicist: Locally grown food is fresher and greener

Buying local produce has many benefits and, as far as I can tell, few disadvantages. In these days of financial constraint, it makes more sense to try to support the local economy, rather than our cash going abroad.

This is the financial argument: profits made by local, independently owned shops are more likely to be ploughed back into local concerns than profits that are distributed to shareholders or a head office somewhere else.

And money isn’t the only argument. Food grown locally spends a shorter time travelling to the consumer, and so will be fresher. In the case of fruit and vegetables, this means the consumer benefits from more vitamins and nutrients because these start to degrade as soon as the produce is picked. Salads are crunchier, fruit is firmer, and it might even be more tasty.

Food-miles footprint

With less time spent in transportation and refrigeration, the food-miles footprint is bound to be smaller. I find it ridiculous that some supermarkets truck produce from one end of the UK to the other in order to grade and pack it, and then transport it back to near where it was grown for sale in their big soulless warehouses. With farm shops and markets, and many locally owned greengrocers, the food comes with a much smaller carbon footprint.

Many areas have campaigns to buy local. If you want to know about the local, independent suppliers and traders in your area, go to a website called just enter your postcode into its search box, and it will list the nearest registered with it.

If we don’t use these local independents, they will disappear from our neighbourhood, undercut by the convenience and “pile it high sell it cheap” approach of the big chains.

I urge you to buy less from supermarkets and multinationals, and to support local outlets. It’s good for our environment, your health and all local communities.

And you’ll be able to add it to your green credentials!

John Cossham is Community Care’s ethical living expert. Read his blog at

This article is published in the 9 April issue of Community Care magazine under the heading The green gospel is that consumption begins at home

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