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Customers interact with vendors at the Kalamazoo farmers market on Saturday, June 1, 2019.

At the average grocery store, produce tends to be sourced from other states or even countries than where it is sold and eventually consumed. This isn’t the only place to buy produce, however, there’s another option, buying local produce. There are many reasons that one should buy local produce instead of from a larger grocery store. Buying and consuming local produce means it’s more environmentally friendly  because it doesn’t take large amounts of energy to ship, it’s guaranteed to be in season and it supports local farmers, according to The Spruce Eats.

Buying local produce means a consumer knows exactly where the product came from. Often times, the vendors at farmer’s markets are also the ones who grew the crops. This creates a sense of community by connecting local farmers and business owners to people living in the community. It’s easy to become familiar with the people who grow local fruits and vegetables and to build local connections this way.

One benefit of buying local produce is that it’s always going to be what’s in season. Fruits and vegetables that are in season at the time they’re bought and consumed are more nutrient-rich and taste better.  When produce is picked and sold while it’s in season, it’s had time to ripen naturally as well. It didn’t have to travel a long distance — causing it to have to be picked early to avoid it rotting so the produce is guaranteed to be as fresh as possible. For this reason, it’s also far better for the environment to buy local produce.

It’s more beneficial to buy local produce for the environment and one’s wallet. Not only is the produce itself cheaper because it didn’t have to travel long distances, but any money that’s spent on it generally stays local. Buying local produce means supporting local vendors and the local economy. For anyone who has a job in the area or has made an investment in local property, this is another selling point of buying local produce. When farmers in the community are supported, they stay in the area, and the money spent there is slowly reinvested in the community itself. The more people support these businesses, the more money gets invested.

One of the best places to buy produce is farmer’s markets. Most likely, the produce there than at grocery stores because it didn’t require mass production or shipment, according to Mind Body Green.com. In the Harrisonburg area, there are several different farmer’s markets to buy local produce.

For JMU students, a great way to buy local produce is at the Wednesday farmers market outside of Madison Union, but there are other places to shop as well. The main place off campus, in Harrisonburg to buy local produce is the Harrisonburg Farmers Market. It’s located on South Liberty Street and operates Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M. There’s also the Shenandoah Heritage Market on Carpenter Lane, which operates Monday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. This is a great option for students who are willing and able to get a little further from campus to get produce and other local goods.

Buying produce from local vendors has many benefits, whether they may be for the local community, health or the environment. They’re a great place for any college student or young person beginning to shop for themselves because they tend to be less expensive than traditional grocery stores, and they only supply fruits and vegetables that are in season. There are many local farmers markets that sell local produce, and there are many reasons to support these businesses and the crops that they sell.

Georgia Leipold-Vitiello is a freshman media art and design major. Contact her at leipolge@dukes.jmu.edu