Nearly every town or village has one and they’re a staple of the community – but when was the last time you checked out what your local market had to offer? The COVID-19 pandemic certainly changed the way we, as consumers, shopped. Now, local markets are leading the way, not only to improve the economy, but to help tackle climate change and promote sustainable living.
So, what are the benefits of shopping at your local market?
It’s right on your doorstep 🚪
There’s a reason local markets have been around since the 11th century in England – they’re positioned in the heart of the community and for many people, a stone’s throw away! Try leaving your car at home and instead, taking a walk into town to see what your local market has on offer. Not only does this really help reduce air pollution in your area, but getting out and enjoying the fresh air is so important for our physical and mental wellbeing. You’ll soon see a visible difference in your mood and health once you get out and about.
Buying local vs Supermarkets
To try and protect your food as best as they can, supermarkets will use a lot of plastic packaging to try and protect it as it travels thousands of miles before ending up in your shopping trolley. This means more plastic needlessly being produced, which contributes to global warming, and more plastic in our environment harming wildlife. But when you visit your local market, stall holders will often use next to no packaging on their produce since it has been locally sourced. On top of this, stall holders will also encourage you to bring your own reusable carrier bags and packaging to help reduce the amount of waste produced.
Not only will your produce be more sustainable at your local market, it’ll be better quality too. It’s no secret that produce from your local market will be sourced from a local farm and will therefore ensure a fresher product. Whereas, supermarket food is packaged in a factory and can take weeks before it arrives to you.
Giving back to the community
Speaking of being at the heart of the community, markets help local residents give something back. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us one thing – it’s that we need to support our local businesses and traders. The pandemic hit the business community hard, so shopping at your local market will help keep traders in business. In fact, the UK government pumped £50m into local high streets and markets in 2020 and many used the money to improve the look and feel of local markets so now is the time to check out your local market!
The UK knows good food
Ever noticed the label on your punnet of strawberries and the country they were imported in from? Well, that punnet is unknowingly contributing to climate change. We have a long and complicated food industry, so produce that is imported from other countries can have a huge impact on our climate. However, your local fruit and veg stall at the market usually has produce from UK seasons, so the produce is usually a lot kinder on the environment.
Try to purchase produce that is grown in our seasons. Right now, it’s the perfect time to have strawberries and cream. The Vegetarian Society has a handy guide on seasonal produce.
On top of this, the UK’s food and drink manufacturing industry contributed £32.1bn in 2019 to the Gross Value Added (GVA, the difference between output and intermediate consumption for any given sector / industry) according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. That’s the third biggest contributor to the UK’s agri-food sector! So, shopping local produce not only helps the environment, but it also helps the economy.
There’s a deal to be had at your local market
On top of all of the other benefits local markets have, they’re also good for your purse strings. A Channel 4 Dispatches investigation found convenience store supermarkets were 35% more expensive than local markets. Local markets are competing with the big guys, so their prices are often much lower. You can find a great deal and it never hurt to try to haggle!
Service with a smile
Many market traders rely on returning customers, so customer service is hugely important. When you shop at your local market, you’ll quickly find yourself getting to know your fruit and veg vendor or your butcher. The customer service at a market is next to none, so say goodbye to aimlessly walking around the supermarket and say hello to a friendly welcome and ‘how can we help you?’
Waste less when you shop at your local market
When you shop at your local market, you’ll find yourself making more informed choices about what you really need. How many times do you walk around the supermarket, adding things to your trolley or basket, only to find you’ve spent nearly double than you expected at the check out? Well, when you’re talking to stall holders at the market, you’ll make more informed decisions and only buy what you need.
You’ll start to find that you’re throwing away less than you usually would when you purchase food from the supermarket. According to Love Food Hate Waste, one third of food produced globally is wasted; that is 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is never eaten. How does this impact the climate? Well, when food ends up in landfill, it decomposes and releases methane which is a harmful greenhouse gas. So, only purchasing what you need will help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases the are produced.
Weird and wonderful
Your local market certainly offers unique items you won’t find elsewhere. Larger shops follow trends and mass produce their items, but local markets tend to offer handmade items that you definitely won’t find elsewhere.
Many people took up new hobbies during the COVID-19 pandemic and local markets are now offering a platform for many people to turn their hobbies into booming businesses! According to research by Barclays, one in 6 small business owners started out by turning their hobby into an income.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re not sure where your local market is, visit itsmylocalmarket.co.uk to find out.
Happy shopping! 😁