You might remember standing in your local supermarket thinking “This deal is too good to be true.” and it probably was. If you pay €2,50 for a kilo of meat, there is no way anyone involved gets a fair share, including you.
For Ireland, the agricultural food sector is its most important native industry. Farmers, Fishermen and companies across the country produce high quality Irish food and we should do our best to support them. There are high international standards of quality and food safety Irish farmers and fishers commit to and the sector makes a crucial contribution to employment in Ireland. About 173.000 people work in the industry, representing 7.7% of total employment.
Buying cheap from a big international retailer and food from other countries that could be produced here often comes with long shipping routes. Planes, cars, trains and ships create traffic and air pollution that seriously affect our environment. When you buy locally – and that includes online from Irish businesses – the overall shorter shipping or travelling distances and the reduced packaging lowers your carbon footprint. 2020 is the International Year of Plant Health and you buying locally makes a big contribution to supporting our environment. Rethinking your choices works towards a sustainable economy. And a big additionally benefit for your health: Food that travels shorter and is fresher often needs less preservatives too.
But it’s not only about food. Buying from big retailers online sometimes feels like a serious gamble. Will you actually get what you ordered? The size or the colour might be off and sometimes you get a completely different product. Additionally, to the impact the shipping has on our environment, the return process can be really messy. Returning an item to an Irish online retailer or a local store is not only cheaper but also less of a headache.
And that is the other thing: Buying locally means you know exactly what you get. You can see in store what you buy and maybe even try items before purchasing. The work and attention to detail a small business puts in their products often speaks for itself. No matter if it’s about clothing, Jewlery or food.
But where do you start? Farmers markets are a great place to get locally produced food. And not only that. You are able to connect directly with the people behind the products. Additionally, to organic produce, you can find fresh baked bread, artesian cheeses and organic meat at many of them.
If you can’t find a market around you, SuperValu has 75% in their stores sourced or produced in Ireland. They support over 1800 Irish supplies and are a great place to start if you have troubles finding local food stores and are a great place to start.
One of the businesses they support is for example is Lispopple Apples. They have been growing and supplying fruit for almost 50 years. Maura Taylor-Buckley started with growing strawberries and raspberries in the 70s and had the first ‘pick and pay’ farm in North Country Dublin. When the current owner Denis took over, she added squash, pumpkins, apples and more. The family business puts quality and sustainability over everything.
A huge amount of the Irish retail industry is made up of family owner, small companies. Supporting them means supporting our communities, especially among the big international retailers. When you buy locally, you support your local economy. And local businesses give communities their unique character. Cosy cafes with homemade cookies, unique pieces of clothing in small boutiques or hand crafted Jewlery pieces. Maybe your town had the best cheesecake in Ireland? These one-of-a-kind businesses are part of our identity.
All in all, buying local not only supports your community, family owned businesses and the character of your town but also has a big impact on the environment. It means supporting tradition and fair wages.