Benefits of Shopping Local in the Ozarks
Downtown Springfield, Mo. Photo via Taylor Stanton.

Benefits of Shopping Local in the Ozarks

“Shop local.” “Eat local.” “Buy local.” We hear these phrases all the time, but we usually don’t stop to consider why we should shop local. Instead, we spend our hard-earned paychecks at big-box stores and chain restaurants.

Many consumers believe that shopping locally prevents them from accessing a wider variety of merchandise. Some people also think shopping locally is a hassle when compared to frequenting the nearest Wal-Mart. I used to be one of these people until I learned about the many benefits of shopping at local businesses. While I still partake in the occasional Target run, I try to purchase local produce and merchandise whenever I can.

Fresh Produce

When you shop at local farmers markets, you acquire the freshest, most unadulterated produce found in your area. A Huffington Post article says that most produce available at the grocery store has been sprayed or coated with preservatives, so it will last longer on the store’s shelves. The most common chemically coated produce items are apples, strawberries, bell peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. Buying produce from local farmers ensures that you get fresh fruits and vegetables that don’t come with a layer of added chemicals. In Springfield, Missouri, you can get locally-grown produce from places like the farmers market, Mama Jean’s Natural Market, Homegrown Foods and Millsap Farms.

The Physicians for Social Responsibility state that preservatives are also found in other processed foods, such as meat or bread. The additives in these foods can cause headaches and nausea. Long-term consumption of these chemical additives is also suspected to cause cancer. While meat and bread are items you may not find at the average farmers market, you can always visit your local bakery and butcher shop. In Springfield, you can buy fresh bread made without preservatives from Breadsmith or Artisan’s Oven. You can also buy meat from the City Butcher & Barbecue.

Less Pollution

Shopping local isn’t just good for your health. It also benefits the environment. In Why Buying Green Means Buying Local,” the American Independent Business Alliance states that local businesses tend to stock locally produced goods. By buying their ingredients or merchandise from local farmers and artisans, local restaurants and shops waste less fuel and create less pollution when transporting their goods.

A large portion of local businesses inhabit existing buildings, which is another reason local businesses can be more environmentally friendly than chain stores. Clearing land to build new shops and parking lots reduces the surrounding natural habitat and produces pollution. This pollution can negatively impact the local wildlife and water supply.

Benefits Local Economy

Another reason to shop local is that it benefits the economy. When you buy something from a local business your money is more likely to stay in the community. An article from the Entrepreneur says that local businesses are more likely to purchase items from other local businesses. When local businesses buy from local factories and farms, they support the community’s economy as well. Compared to chain stores, local shops are also more likely to give back to their communities by participating in fundraisers and events.

Connecting with Others in Your Area

The shopper’s experience is also different when shopping locally versus shopping at a big-box stores. Many local storefronts are run by their owners, so costumers have the chance to form relationships with the people who make and sell their favorite products. Knowing who crafts your merchandise or grows your produce makes running errands more enjoyable.

Most local shops and restaurants are small; therefore, they tend to also have excellent customer service. They get to know their customers and tailor their products to their customers’ preferences.

Shopping at local clothing stores, book stores, restaurants, and farmers markets supports the local economy and can be more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, produce from farmers near you can be better for you than the produce you purchase from the closest Price Cutter. When you shop local, you make the choice to support and connect with your community’s entrepreneurs.

The next time you need to grab an ingredient, find a certain book or update your wardrobe, do some research on your area’s local businesses. You never know what cool, locally produced items your community has to offer.

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