Local food is usually food that is grown within a relatively short distance from where it’s consumed, often relying on a small or informal social structure and more different from the large-scale supermarket system. It usually originates from people’s homes and gardens, or from local farms or food markets. This type of food has been termed “artisan food” because it reflects the culture and personality of the people who are its suppliers and producers.
The term artisan is derived from the French word ‘arte’, which means ‘out of the world’. It therefore refers to foods that are grown outside of major urban centers, usually in small rural areas, towns and villages. There are many examples of this, for example, there are many organic vegetables grown in smallholders’ gardens which are delivered to grocery stores across the country, many of which cannot be described as ‘local food’. This type of produce can range from being very local, such as lettuce and tomato plants, to exotic fruits and vegetables grown on some of the largest and most spectacular vineyards in the world. It can also be produced in a number of different ways, for example, it can be grown with minimal irrigation or using intensive irrigation systems.
Supporting local food also means supporting local businesses. This is important in a number of ways. Firstly, by buying locally produced food you’re supporting local businesses, many of which will have small local economies of their own, supporting local trade and livelihoods. Secondly, you can also use local produce to help create your diet and by buying food that originates in your local area, you are supporting jobs in the community and helping to keep local farmers in business.