Did you know that the SWEFM is part of the Alberta Farmers' Market Association? By being a member of the AFMA, we are committed to the "80/20 Rule". That means that a minimum of 80 per cent of the vendors at our market must be Albertans who meet the “make it, bake it, grow it” criteria. The remaining 20 per cent (or less) are vendors selling non-Albertan or handmade/homegrown products that complement the market mix. In the 2016 season, the SWEFM vendor count was 92% Albertan (and we also jumped from an average of 37 vendors per market in 2015 to 51 per market in 2016!).
We define "local" as Albertan made (and ideally, the vendors are selling direct, although we do have a couple of redistributors for niche items). Generally, the only vendors that get into the "Other" category are BC fruit & seafood sellers. We believe that there are many reasons to support local: it supports the future of local farming, it promotes cultural diversity (we have cuisine from 12+ nations represented at the market weekly), it strengthens community connections, and it empowers consumers by giving them a chance to engage with producers/growers directly.
Buying locally also creates a better sense of family & community. When we buy local foods, we are encouraged and inspired by our food. We come home from the market with the ingredients we bought and hit the kitchen, whipping up favourite family recipes and applying our creative juices. And then, we get to savour the bounty with loved ones, enjoying the experience slowly, talking about the effort and the end result.
There are also so many economical reasons to buy local. To quote Time Magazine:
Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going. When money is spent elsewhere—at big supermarkets, non-locally owned utilities and other services such as on-line retailers- that money flows out, like a wound. By shopping at the corner store or farmers' markets, instead of the big box store, consumers keep their communities from becoming what the NEF (New Economics Foundation) calls "ghost towns" (areas devoid of neighborhood shops and services) or "clone towns", where Main Street now looks like every other Main Street with the same fast-food and retail chains.
Research out of Brock University suggests $3 billion would be added to the local economy if 5 million Ontarians spent $10 of their grocery budget on local foods each week. And, "Buy Local" is a hopeful message in a recession because it's not about how much money you've got, but how much you can keep circulating without letting it leak out
With these points in mind, please consider spending some of your hard-earned dollars at local stores, trade fairs, and of course, farmers' markets!