What is local food?  Well, of course, it’s food grown close to where you live.  How close?  We think it’s within an “easy travel distance”.  Maybe 10 or 15 miles at most.  Perhaps you could cycle to the farm or bakery or orchard or wherever the food is produced.

We also think you can recognise local food from a number of properties that it has.  For example:

  1. It has low environmental impact.  Local food incurs fewer food miles.  It doesn’t spend so much time in large storage facilities.  It can be distributed with less wastage in the supply chain.
  2. You know where it’s come from.  You know where it’s grown and who the farmer is.  You know who’s processed it.  You can go and see the farm.  You can talk to the van driver who’s delivered it.
  3. It’s fresh.  It hasn’t spent time in the supply chain or in storage.  In some cases, it’s not even picked until you order it.
  4. It’s seasonal.  When you buy local food, you’re in tune with natural cycles.
  5. It’s competitively priced.  You’re not paying for lots of middlemen and storage costs.  You’re not paying for wastage in the supply chain.
  6. It supports your local community.  It helps create jobs for local producers, people who sort and package the food, van drivers, etc.  Profits get put back into the local community (via wages, via dividends to local co-operative members, etc).
  7. It’s unique.  What’s available to you now is a unique offering — what’s available in the next town or next week will be different.  It gives you a chance to create meals that are unique to your locale and the current season.

We think these are all valuable properties.  Some non-local foods have some of them too, but local food has all of them.  Sometimes we might compromise slightly in one area in order to create value in other ways (e.g. some farms may store produce for a while in order to make it available for a longer time period), but our goal is to help you make the most of these seven properties.