Your decisions about where to buy food truly matter; they have a huge impact that goes well beyond your kitchen. How you choose to spend your grocery dollars affects your community, the local economy, and the well-being of the province’s farmers too. In British Columbia, there is a bounty of rich agricultural land where small farms thrive.

In fact, the province has the highest number of small farms in Canada, according to the 2016 agricultural census.

BC farmers and its 147 farmers’ markets count on consumer support to survive and thrive.

Need more convincing that local is the way to go?

Here are five key reasons to shop at BC’s local farmers’ markets:

Great ingredients lead to great meals and happy customers. When you purchase fruit and vegetables near home, you get the freshest available. That’s also why chefs favour stocking their restaurants with ingredients from local farmers’ markets. Also consider the reduced environmental cost of local food. It wasn’t trucked in from thousands of kilometres away to reach consumers, which means a lower carbon footprint. Purchasing local is kinder to the planet.

This applies to both the province and your city. BC farmers’ markets, from all corners across the province, add $170 million to the BC economy. Closer to home, your purchases at local farmers’ markets help support local farmers, food entrepreneurs, and other artisans who sell there.

Sure, you can go to a grocery store, but why not think outside the box and gain access to unique food and goods not found elsewhere. BC farmers’ markets are lively hubs where fun and interesting things come together. You’ll have a chance to mingle with the people in your community and meet the farmers who grow your food!

“If we don’t support BC farmers and sustain our local food supply, we put ourselves at risk in terms of ensuring we have land to farm and fresh food to eat,” says Heather O’Hara, Executive Director, BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Supporting the farms in your community ensures long-term sustainability. It’s your way to nurture the place where you live.

Local farmers’ markets allow small businesses to experiment and to test the appeal of new food and other goods with their friends and neighbours. They are incubators for creativity where new and cutting-edge products are launched and can flourish.

From heritage varieties of fruits and veggies to one-of-kind artisanal creations, you won’t find many of those at big-name grocery stores.