Local consumption: what it is and its importance

At the beginning of the last century the food model underwent a great industrialization. A symbol of this transformation of consumerism has been the mechanization of many jobs, which has triggered the loss of craft practices and socio-cultural traditions of the primary sector. Consequently, these and other impacts, such as those of an environmental nature derived from the use of machinery and vehicles that run on fossil fuels, which pollute a lot, and from mass production, which leads to the overexploitation of certain commercial species and the territory, have promoted in the last three decades a very palpable transformation of food.

In fact, it is certain that for some time now you have heard or read concepts such as “vegetarianism”, “responsible consumption”, “collaborative economy” or “fair trade”, great pillars of change.

What is local consumption

Local consumption could be understood as a new socio-economic trend that has completely modified the behavior of consumers and commerce, as well as our relationship with the natural environment in which we live. It is a model of responsible or conscious consumption , contrary to consumerism, focused on the satisfaction of what is strictly necessary in order to improve the well-being of present and future generations. A model, therefore, sustainable and in which the possible environmental and social impacts derived from the production, transport, distribution and consumption chain do matter.

Focusing on the food context, with the promotion of local consumption or km0 , quality and seasonal products (in small butcher shops, fishmongers, greengrocers, bakeries, groceries, etc. of the place where we live), this alternative allows us to reconcile and integrate the economic development of the territories, with the conservation of nature and socio-cultural progress . Thus guaranteeing food security and sovereignty and ensuring that local consumption is equitable and healthy.

Importance of local consumption

Local consumption has gained a lot of strength in recent years, but why? What makes this trade model increasingly relevant? What is the importance of consuming local products ?

To answer these questions, it is essential to focus on the multiple benefits of local consumption, some of which are:

  • Buying directly from the producer closes distances with the consumer. This implies: the disappearance of the figure of intermediaries and, therefore, of the inflation of the cost of food products; the consequent emergence of fair trade, which builds relationships of trust between consumers-producers and is characterized by real payment for the work carried out by the latter; as well as greater transparency and control of producers in the production process, which increases the pleasure and use value of consumers.
  • It favors the work of producers in the most immediate environment, increasing their capacity for competition and strengthening, through the consumption of local products , the local economy and the socio-cultural identity of what is considered proper in the territory where we live or have been born. Which, consequently, leads to the formation of more resilient and self-sufficient communities.
  • Therefore, it offers a rich and varied commercial fabric, capable of responding to the diversity of dietary practices.
  • Short agri-food chains are more respectful of the environment , as they reduce pollution levels and promote energy savings related to transportation and food processing worldwide. Likewise, they respect the seasonality of the products , strengthening balanced and nutritionally adequate diets, based on the consumption of natural foods, of higher quality, little processed and non-transgenic, harmful to health.
  • According to FAO and the SDGs, local trade, capable of weaving together diverse, productive, resilient and sustainable local economies, contributes to the eradication of poverty, allowing the socio-economic development of communities with fewer resources and more vulnerable.

The power of supermarket chains, among other factors, has in recent years pushed local consumers to seek new forms of advertising and sales to reach the public. Below are some of the strategies that have been essential to promote local or km0 consumption :

  • Incorporation of the home delivery service.
  • Ordering online or by phone.
  • Visibility of businesses through social media, banners or the press.
  • Development of food cooperatives that face the problems of generational change and rural depopulation.
  • Training in responsible consumption and solidarity economy for local agents and the general public through workshops or information and awareness campaigns.
  • Promotion of the creation of urban gardens in neighborhoods, towns and cities, through public institutions, such as town halls, schools.
  • Valorization of local products through appellations of origin, reinforcing their identity and thus being able to cope with global trade mechanisms.
  • Economic bonus for businesses committed to the production and consumption of organic food.

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