By Angela Colley
NEW YORK (MoneyTalkNews) -- The way many Americans buy their food is changing. According to a study by the market research group Mintel, more people are choosing locally grown produce over fruits and vegetables that are labeled “organic.”
Between 2008 and 2011, organic (also called “natural”) fruit sales declined 58 percent. Vegetables with a natural or organic seal declined 77 percent. One reason could be the big price tag for these products, combined with the recession.
It’s no secret organically grown food typically costs more. As Fox News detailed a few weeks ago, it requires more labor and costlier fertilizer, among other things.
So what are healthy but cost-conscious consumers to do? Well, 52 percent of the people surveyed by Mintel have decided it’s more important to buy locally grown foods than organics.
“Natural and organic produce items aren’t completely passe, but local varieties are steadily gaining ground,” says John N. Frank, a Mintel manager. “Interestingly enough, senior citizens are even more likely to believe that buying local produce is more important than organic.”
I agree with them. While not certified organic, many local growers I’ve met claim to use organic farming techniques, and their prices easily beat organic prices you find in most supermarkets.
5 reasons buying local is a good idea…
1. It supports local farmers. Farmers get to keep the majority of the profits they make at food stands and farmers markets, rather than sharing them with distributors and retailers.
2. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint. The average produce in America travels 1,500 miles before reaching your dinner table, according to advocacy group Sustainable Table. Locally grown food only travels a few miles.
3. You’ll waste less packaging. Local produce doesn’t need heavy packaging for shipping. Less packaging means less waste.
4. The food tastes better. Nothing beats the taste of berries fresh off the vine.
5. It costs less. I just bought a flat of strawberries (12 half pints) for $8 at a food stand. Organic strawberries cost $3.50 per pint at my grocery store. I saved $2.17 per pint!