There are many ways to save money on groceries, such as clipping coupons or buying generic brands in lieu of name brands. However, another way to cut costs is to skip the supermarket altogether to purchase locally grown food. (For related reading, see Is Coupon Clipping A Waste Of Time?)

Often, the food you purchase will be high quality, organic and better for your health than processed foods. Plus, you'll support your local economy. While you may believe that buying locally produced food is difficult, the option is available to you at numerous locations.

The Benefits of Buying Local
1. Taste and Nutrition
Locally grown food tastes better and is generally healthier than produce at national grocers. Because local fruits and vegetables are allowed to ripen before they're picked, they are richer in nutrients than the standard grocery store variety. Most grocery store produce is picked before reaching peak ripeness and sits in storage and transit for a week, if not more.

2. Cost Effectiveness
There are fewer packaging costs, and since the food travels less it can be sold at a cheaper price. Plus, there aren't any middlemen involved in the sale process.

3. Energy Conservation
By purchasing food locally, you are doing your part to decrease our nation's reliance on oil. Food purchased at grocery stores travels an average of 1,500 miles - and when the price of oil spikes, you eventually see a price increase at the supermarket.

4. Environmental Impact
In addition to conserving energy, forgoing the purchase of food that has traveled great distances for locally grown produce lowers your carbon footprint. Furthermore, local farmers typically use fewer pesticides. (For additional reading, see Cheap Steps To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.)

Where to Find Locally Grown Products
1. Farm Stands
Some farms have roadside stands to sell their products, but you can also purchase fruits and vegetables from a pick-your-own (PYO) farm. You'll get the benefits of locally grown food, and enjoy being outdoors and picking the items yourself or with your family. Another option is to buy homegrown fruits and vegetables from a food cooperative, a grocery store owned and operated by its members. Co-ops typically have high standards of social responsibility, and supply local produce, as well as organic and fair-trade items.

2. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farms
CSA farms are food networks made up of individuals who commit to support a local farming operation. By purchasing a subscription or share in a CSA farm, you will typically receive one box of seasonal fruits and vegetables per week during the farming season. At times, CSAs may also offer dairy and meat products.

3. Farmers' Markets
If you're lucky enough to have one close to you, this is probably the best option for acquiring locally grown food, especially if you're constantly on the go. Farmers' markets feature a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and typically offer much more than your average grocer. The prices are competitive and the level of quality is equal to, if not better, than foods at the grocery store.

The Effect on the Local Economy
Purchasing locally grown food supports the farmers in your area. The Department of Labor reported 24 million jobs in the U.S. rely on food and fiber industry, so keeping farms in business is important.

Furthermore, when buying from a national grocer, only 18 cents of every dollar goes to the farmer, with 82 cents going to the middlemen. Spending your money locally pumps revenue into your state's economy, keeps dollars circulating in your community, maintains employment for local residents and can help to create more jobs.

The Bottom Line
In some instances, you will find that buying locally grown food is a little more expensive than food purchased at a national grocer. However, the extra costs are negligible when you consider that the benefits far outweigh slightly increased cost. Buying local benefits your health, your community, and the planet, and will make your taste buds happy. Plus, you can also develop a personal relationship with the farmer who grows the food that you and your family eat, and learn more about the process of food production. (For more information, see 22 Ways To Fight Rising Food Prices.)

Related Articles
  1. Entrepreneurship

    How an Internet Sales Tax Will Affect Your Small Business

    Learn about how the Marketplace Fairness Act may impact small business owners should it pass in the House and what the act requires from business owners.
  2. Savings

    Craft Beer Clubs – Bargain or Not?

    If you're an aficionado of artisanal brews (or would like to be), a beer club can be a palate-pleasing, albeit pricey, way to expand your hops horizon.
  3. Stock Analysis

    When Will Dick's Sporting Goods Bounce Back? (DKS)

    Is DKS a bargain here?
  4. Stock Analysis

    Has Urban Outfitters Lost its Way? (URBN)

    Urban Outfitters just made a bold move. Will it pay off?
  5. Stock Analysis

    Is Walmart's Rally Sustainable? (WMT)

    Walmart is enjoying a short-term rally. Is it sustainable? Is Amazon still a better bet?
  6. Savings

    Are Wine Clubs Worth It?

    Some points to consider, before committing to a membership for yourself – or as a gift. The right club can also help you save money over the holidays.
  7. Stock Analysis

    Kohl's: Should You Stock Up or Sell? (KSS)

    Many traders are bearish on Kohl's, but long-term investors might want to take a closer look for this simple reason.
  8. Stock Analysis

    GoPro's Stock: Can it Fall Much Further? (GPRO)

    As a company that primarily sells discretionary products, GoPro and its potential falls right in line with consumer trends. Is that good or bad?
  9. Stock Analysis

    How Macy's Will Refresh its Brand

    Macy's is heading in the wrong direction, but what's the potential for a turnaround?
  10. Budgeting

    Save Money by Avoiding these Expensive Organic Products

    Save money on your next trip to the grocery store by not paying extra 10 organic products.
  1. Where can you buy NetSpend reload packs?

    You can only purchase NetSpend reload packs at Giant Eagle, Albertsons, Roundy's and Pathmark supermarkets. NetSpend cards ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does marginal utility tell us about consumer choice?

    In microeconomics, utility represents a way to relate the amount of goods consumed to the amount of happiness or satisfaction ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR ...

    An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company that manufactures a basic product or a component product, such as a ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What has the retail sector evolved to its current structure?

    Retail is the catch-all phrase for the sale of final goods to consumers; a retail transaction is considered an "end" and ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center