Going Local: Four students share their views on locally grown foods

Posted on Thursday December 12, 2013

Food Costs/Benefits Analysis

By Katelyn Kribel, Camden Residential Class of 2014


To buy food locally, or not to buy food locally? That is the question. 


Just kidding. But in all seriousness, this is a good question that is worth taking a moment to stop and think about. What are the consequences of purchasing food locally? What are the costs and benefits? How does it effect you, and the social and physical environment around you? It’s time to evaluate. 


Firstly, I’ll start off by listing some of the costs of buying local food. One of the bigger costs is – quite literally – the cost. Local tomatoes can be very expensive compared to the mass produced tomatoes imported from Spain. To some people, this is only a very small inconvenience, but to others, it can be a cost that is too big for them to have the luxury to consider. This is one reason as to why the option to purchase imported foods is positive. 

Another downfall to buying from your local farmers is that food cannot be grown year-around by a Maine farmer. At least, not without the use of massive amounts of energy. And really, using that much energy just to buy some parsley from your neighbor in the middle of the winter is not totally worth it. However, with imported foods, you can easily have products available to you all year. Oh, it’s winter and your local farmers can’t grow that parsley you really need? Good thing it’s perfect parsley-growing weather in Australia. You can just drive your privileged bum over to the nearest Hannaford, and you are good to go.


Now, the benefits of buying local foods. A major benefit is (for the most part) the positive impact that the local foods have on the environment. When you have things imported to you from thousands of miles away, the transportation of those items costs a lot of energy – henceforth, destroying the environment. However, when you buy some potatoes from right down the road, you’re no longer contributing to the demands for the imported potatoes, and are saving some energy by not having them delivered. 

Another benefit is that buying food locally keeps money within the community. Our money doesn’t go out to some country that nobody’s ever heard of, but instead, it’s going to our farmers. Then in turn, their money may go to a local book store, and it creates this nice little circulation of local money. How pleasant is that? A community rich in both money and loyalty. It doesn’t get much better than that.

And finally, the final listed benefit is the freshness of the food. After traveling from place, to place, to place, food can lose that initial freshness (and not to mention the chemicals and dirty circumstances those imported foods underwent.) With local food, though, it’s usually picked straight off the tree or out of the ground, and sold to you. Also, local farmers are known for not using harmful chemicals on their food, which holds true 99% of the time. So this is a health benefit to be considered.


That’s pretty much all the facts that I have to discuss about the costs and benefits of local food. Overall, I personally believe that the benefits outweigh the costs, however, I known that not everybody is able to do that, and there also won’t be much local food grown here in the winter. Therefore, I think people should definitely buy locally when they can, but the option to buy imported foods should always remain open. 


Cost and Benefits Of Buying Locally Grown Food

By Carlos Andrade, Camden Residential Class of 2014


Lately we have been discussing the importance of locally grown Vegetables and Fruits, the question that I have been asked to explore and discuss with my classmates is, what are the benefits and the costs of buying local food products? Local food is relatively safer for the most part, farmers don’t tend to use pesticides and growth steroids for the plants in their growing process. But that’s not the best part, locally grown food tastes so amazing and most of the time looks better and smells fresher. Something else that I found intriguing is that local food supports the local families, by cutting out the middle man the farmers are getting full retail price for their food. Which helps farm families and farmers stay on their land that way they can produce and grow more food to be sold. Something that I found online that really made sense to me was a study from a man named Vern Grubinger, a vegetable and berry specialist at the University of Vermont. He said “Local food builds community. When you buy direct from a farmer, you’re engaging in a time-honored connection between eater and grower. Knowing farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. In many cases, it gives you access to a place where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture.” Which I think is such a big part and thing for a farmer and the consumer to gain a relationship when both people are excited willing and know what the community needs to become better and grow together. So when we think about our environment and everything, the cost to transport food from different places like states and what not, well doing that is a problem for our ecosystem and it has hurt ourozone layer, but I don’t want to turn this essay into a story about global warming, but the facts are when we are buying locally we are polluting our planet less and less, which saves money and saves gas. Keeping the money in the community is important, but not as much important as it is a great thing to do for everybody and the community, can you imagine if lets say Camden, Maine since we are living here, if everyone here and when I say everybody I mean the entire population of this little town bought all their veggies and fruits and even locally raised pigs from local farmers and local butchers. All the money would stay here for a very long time, we as a little town we are would be keeping the money here and supporting each other. Just a theory but can you imagine if every single person here was only buying locally grown/raised things? No more Hannaford or Shaw’s or any big stores where you could potentially buy fruit and veggies from other states and countries. We as a community would grow onto each other and well maybe an accomplishment we could achieve is making our city a local only town no out of state stores all farmers markets. So all this stuff that I just mentioned is how I feel and what I think about buying locally and I hope others see and read this and agree with my theory of making our community as local place only. These are the cost and benefits of buying locally, along with my own little insight.

What are the costs and benefits of buying food locally?

By Emily Bennett, Camden Residential Class of 2014


Buying food locally is just as beneficial as it is adverse, and vice versa. There are more drawbacks than conveniences, but one could argue that the conveniences- in their convenience- override the said drawbacks. Whether musing about it to one’s self or seeing the image right before one’s self, in, say, a Venn diagram, there’s still no real simplistic approach on whether the purchasing of food locally, rather than mass produced items, is necessarily more advantageous or disadvantageous. Some say the answer’s clear, and some say it’s murky: to assess which is arguably true, one must present an argument.

First and foremost, let’s review the benefits of buying food locally. Of course, it’s healthier: there are more nutrients, and it’s fresher due to lack of food miles (which also reduces carbon dioxide emissions). There are no antibiotics or hormones, and it is potentially safer- plus, you know where your food comes from. It keeps money local, in the community, and it also supports local farmers. Preserving the land establishes a land resolution, and there are many economic benefits for the community as well as initiating a community spirit, and local biodiversity.

Now that we’ve determined the good side of local purchase, it’s time to tackle the costs- literally and figuratively. It seems anything decent, whether an idea or something material, often comes with a price: local food is definitely more expensive. Surprisingly, it is also not necessarily more energy efficient (sometimes local food transportation is just as bad as farther food miles.) Due to fewer people, it is also more labor intensive. There are occasionally bugs, and packaging isn’t necessarily more appealing. Since we usually depend on outside sources to provide less accessible food, buying food locally would mean a limited supply of certain fruits, vegetables, or meats you’d normally see in Hannaford- even when not in season. It would be less consistent- imagine a full harvest suddenly discovered to be bad, and there would be no vegetables or fruits. It could potentially be less regulated around safety. The worst part, however, is back to the cost- this may result in inequality of healthy foods, a sort of dehumanization, rich versus poor.

So is buying food locally good? Bad? It’s arguable either way. To the rich tourist, it’s an obvious answer. To the local single mother, maybe it’s not so easy. Overall health is something we all want to achieve. Making healthy food less available to the not-so-well-off is something I find unbalanced and unreasonable.

Cost & Benefits Of Buying Local Food

By Cheyanne Penniman, Camden Residential Class of 2014


An individual will often think of heading to the grocery store before exploring their local food market for reasons of convenience, affordability, or just plain ignorance on where the food they’re buying is coming from. When someone purchases food from their local grocery store they do not think of all the pesticides and preservatives that are in their food, or the long distances it travels before it gets to us. You are also consuming animal hairs, feces and carcasses. Did you know that the FDA allows but sets restrictions on how much of these things we’re allowed to consume per meal? And I don’t believe that putting unknown products in people’s food can be justified without educating our population on what they’re consuming first. And most Americans aren’t aware of this.


There are many advantages to buying locally grown foods; some advantages of buying food locally is the obvious, the food is fresher and healthier for you, because they are pesticide and preservative free and you know that they really take time to grow and watch over their food. Nothing goes into the food that the consumer isn’t aware of, meaning no extra animal surprises. What you see is what you get. When you buy meat from your local food market rather than a grocery store you can be assured that the animals that you’re buying were slaughtered in a humane way. To elaborate, suppliers of grocery stores slaughter and raise 100’s, maybe thousands of animals used for meat a year. They have so much meat to process that the animals get a lot of neglect and mistreatment. Local food farms raise only what they can afford to raise, usually less than 100 of each animal. This gives them time to tend to each animal and treat them fairly to the time of birth and until death. When the animal is dead they’re cleansed thoroughly. Many local farms are family owned and their livelihood. When we buy local foods we are supporting our community and making wise decisions for our body.


There are some disadvantages with buying local foods, but in my opinion they do not even compare to the problems we’re faced with when we’re buying food from unknown suppliers from the grocery store. Often people go to the grocery store not because they don’t enjoy locally grown products, but because of convenience. Not a lot of people have the opportunity to go out of their way for fresher food, especially when they don’t see a problem with the food they’re already buying. If a family is one a tight budget it also may be difficult because local food is often more expensive. Farms around the area are also low in numbers and they are not always available due to the climate changes and their inability to grow certain foods at this time. Even if you were to buy only locally grown food you’d be missing out on a large selection of fruits and veggies that aren’t available in Maine.


Tags: , , , , , , ,