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From panic buying shelf-stable goods to mastering the art of sourdough, there’s no question that the pandemic has changed the world of food. For many, purchasing groceries was always something we didn’t have to think much about. But as the food supply and economy changed, many of us have been left to reflect on the food we purchase, and where we buy it from. As a result, one of the more amazing things to come from this year is the conscious choice to support more local businesses!

 


 

The pandemic changed the consumer shopping experience

As everyone undoubtedly recalls, panic buying was definitely a thing in the early pandemic era. There’s no question that there was a shortage of paper goods (you all know which paper we’re referring to!). But empty food shelves were another common feature, with certain foods such as canned goods, pasta, flour, eggs, and frozen products in short supply for months on end. 

With lockdown measures in place, coupled with supply chain disturbances and way too much hoarding, food security began to concern even the more wealthy citizens in our society earlier this year. Needless to say, this precipitated a greater interest in food, leaving many to reflect on how, and where, they get their food. In fact, recent Google Search Trends data reflect how our interests in food have been shaped by the pandemic. Consumers have expressed more interest in food preservation, grocery stores, food delivery, and perhaps the most common - sourcing local food. 

With farmers markets, stores and restaurants forced to shut their doors for months on end, it’s clear that operating a local business hasn’t been an easy feat in 2020. People are becoming more aware of the fact that small, local businesses need our help more than ever, and ultimately we need them too!

 

Two important reasons to buy local

  1. Local business is essential for our economy. Local businesses bring growth and innovation to our communities. Not to mention, they provide more well-paying jobs and support the local economies, communities and neighbourhoods. Studies have shown that BC independent retailers and restaurants recirculate 2.6x more revenue in the local economy than chain competitors. YAS, we love that local impact!
  2. Small businesses are being hit hard:recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that that 50% of small businesses have reported a drop in sales. With 25% of those saying they couldn’t sustain a full month under those conditions. We must remember that many local businesses are independent, small stores. We rely on them for what they provide to our communities, and they rely on us to survive. Truly is there a better time to support a small, local business?

How to Support Local Businesses during a Pandemic

  1. Buy direct from the farm, a local market, or your local greengrocer. Changes in the supply chain have left many farmers with excess produce, and less funds, so support a local farm if you can. Local markets and grocers tend to carry more local products and typically charge suppliers much lower fees than big-box stores do, which means more money is left in the suppliers pocket!
  2. Order take-out, delivery, or safely dine-in at a local restaurant. Some people have gone as far as ordering takeout once a week to take a break from all of that good old home-cooking, while also supporting a local restaurant. What a win-win!
  3. Swap big-brand items to locally made-products. Buying locally-made hand soap is an easy place to start. Purchasing food products that are produced locally is another great way to contribute. A fun way to add local products to your daily life is to sample beers from a local brewery. You can even make a night out of it and host a ‘beer tasting’ for yourself and your social bubble, or host it virtually! Okay yes, this is officially the best idea ever!

While the need to help the independent business community has been made more obvious this year, the benefits of shopping locally extend beyond these times of crisis. Buying local is always a good idea, after all - you could quite literally be supporting your neighbour through your purchases. Take care of each other, even as the world begins to feel more ‘normal’!

 


References

Canadian Federation of Independent Business. (2020). Half of small firms report a drop in sales due to COVID-19, a quarter say they won’t survive a month with a big drop in income. Retrieved from:https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/media/half-small-firms-report-drop-sales-due-covid-19-quarter-say-they-wont-survive-month-big-drop

Civic Economics. (2013). Independent BC: Small business and the British Columbia economy. Retrieved from: https://ccednet-rcdec.ca/sites/ccednet-rcdec.ca/files/ccednet/pdfs/independant_bc_small_and_the_british_colombia_economy.pdf

Fennell, S. (2020). Local food solutions during the coronavirus crisis could have lasting benefits.University of Cambridge. Retrieved from:https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/globaltolocal

Government of British Columbia. (2020). Buy BC and support local restaurants, farmers, and food producers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from:https://buybc.gov.bc.ca/learn-about-bc-food/support-local/

Schmidt, C. (2020). Google searches reveal changing consumer food sourcing in the COVID-19 pandemic.Journal of agriculture, food systems, and community development, 9(3), 9-16.https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.093.032

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