5 Tips to Take on the Buy Local Challenge

By Emily Schmitt, RD, LDN, Campus Recreation Services

July 21-29th is Buy Local Week. 

This week, the University of Maryland Wellness Coalition encourages you to participate in the Buy Local Challenge.

The Buy Local Challenge, launched by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, takes place the last full week in July every year.

Why?

Adapted from Buy-Local-Challenge.com
 
  • It helps the economy. It keeps your money closer to home and supports the economic wellbeing of your community. Buying local means you’re supporting independent and family farms, ensuring that more of the money you spend on food goes to the farmer.
  • It is more sustainable. Buying local dramatically cuts down on the distance food travels to reach you, reducing oil and carbon emissions. Local foods also typically require less processing and packaging which are necessary to keep foods from further away from spoiling.
  • Local foods are fresher, tastes better, and have more nutrients. Local farmers are able to focus on growing food for optimal flavor and nutrition rather than a long shelf life.

How? 

First, head over to Buy-Local-Challenge.com and take the pledge to eat at least one thing from a local farm every day the week of July 21-29.

Then, start shopping! Thanks to the Farmers Market at Maryland, open from 11:00am-3:00pm every Wednesday in front of Cole Fieldhouse, buying local is just a short walk away.

  • The Farmers Market at Maryland vendors are local ; they travel a maximum of 200 miles to College Park, reducing the consumption of oil and carbon emissions.  Additionally, several Farmers Market at Maryland vendors use sustainable farming practices.
  • The Farmers Market at Maryland is a producer-only market, meaning you are buying your food from the person who grew or produced it.  The produce you see each week is in season locally.  If you don’t see it, chances are it’s not in season.  As a result, your food tastes fresher and better retains its valuable nutrients.

Not near campus?  Search for a market near you on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Farmers Market Directory.

You’ve found a market close to you.

Now what? 

Follow these 5 Tips for Navigating a Farmers Market

Students, faculty, staff and community members enjoy shopping at The Farmers Market at Maryland.

  1. Shop early. Arrive at the market within the first half of the day.  Why?  You’ll get the best selection.  If you’re hunting for something in particular, there is a greater chance that it will be there when you arrive.
  2. Ask questions. One advantage to buying local is that you can meet the farmer who grew or produced your food.  Questions to ask: Where are you from?  What is this product?  When was it picked?  How can I prepare this?  What farming practices do you use?
  3. Make a game plan. Prior to leaving your house, determine what you will be purchasing.  Are you testing a new, seasonal recipe?  Preparing snacks for the week?  Make a shopping list.  Upon arrival, survey the entire market before buying.  Know what all the vendors are offering and at what price.
  4. Plan your travel. Will you be walking, biking, driving, or using public transportation?  If driving, know where to park and if parking costs money.  If taking public transportation, determine your route beforehand.  Try to anticipate how much you will buy. Will you be able to get it all home? Try and choose sustainable travel methods when possible.
  5. Remember essential supplies.
    • Bring a reusable shopping bag.
    • Bring a cooler or use your office refrigerator to store perishable goods. This is especially important if you will be going to the market in the middle of the work day or traveling a far distance to get home.
    • Bring cash.  While several Farmers Market at Maryland vendors accept credit cards, not all do.  Watch out for Farmers Market at Maryland specials, e-mailed out on the university’s FYI listserv every Tuesday.
    • Wear comfy shoes, sunscreen, and a hat.  Bring water to stay hydrated.

This is a great time of year to make a commitment to buy local – many types of fresh fruits and vegetable are in season right now and available at The Farmers Market at Maryland including, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, watermelon, peppers, corn, squash, and more.

Are you taking on the challenge? Tell us about your plan to buy local below. 

Resources:

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