With the Internet readily available to everyone, it is hard to resist comparing prices of food and other goods to make sure that you are getting the best deal possible. However there has been a growing movement the past few years to shop locally. This movement has gained popularity all over the world but no where more than in Ireland. The Department of Food in Ireland wants consumers to know that with thriving small communities all over the country and the rich land that produces great farming, Ireland is the perfect place to focus on buying locally.
There are many reasons why it is so important to support your local food producers and retailers. First and foremost, when you support your local businesses that money stays in your community rather than going to a large faceless corporation and when money goes back into your community that benefits other local businesses. According to the Irish Times, Ireland still imports 80% of it’s food but it also exports a large amount of beef and dairy, this is due to the control of large international corporations that don’t have a priority to support Ireland’s local businesses. It is up to people in these local communities to begin to change that. Some other positive factors that come with shopping locally is better customer service; people who work at local businesses also live in that community and these people are invested in helping their customers and bettering the community through their business. You are more likely to get honest and good advice about ingredients for a new recipe you want to try for dinner or a great gift for your significant other at Christmas. Local, small businesses create character and charm in small towns that define what kind of town it is, this helps with your quality of life and satisfaction about where you live. When a town has a vibrant local business scene, that even makes housing prices rise in small towns where they might not have. Finally, in regards to retail, you are often able to find unique items made by local vendors that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. With the Internet, everyone is able to purchase the same clothes and gifts all over the world so in order to cultivate a less homogenous society where everyone looks the same, we need local retail shops.
Environmentally, it is extremely important to shop locally in this day and age. With climate change continuing to effect day to day life, we must do everything that we can to combat it and buying produce and meat locally will help enormously. When you buy your food at big, chain stores that food has more than likely traveled a long way to get to your plate. That travel in itself has a negative impact on the environment. So does the amount of food that goes to waste during that travel time as well as the amount of packaging that stores the food. When you buy from your local farmers, bakers or grocers, you know much more about the quality of what you are getting, you know that the food you are eating is fresher, more nutritious and less processed than what you would buy at a Tesco or Aldi. Although shopping for food locally can sometimes be more expensive, you are buying what is actually in season at that time and you are getting it at the best price when it is at it’s peak freshness.
So whether you are buying your favorite basil pesto from The Happy Pear in Greystones or Glenilen Butter from Glenilen Farm in Cork or black pudding from Inch House in Tipperary, it is important for the economy and the environment in Ireland to continue to shop and support your local businesses.