We’ve all heard the enduring recommendation: shop local. Whether we have heard the message from TV commercials, local leaders or online influencers, the push to buy locally sourced food has been growing across the world for years. So why exactly should people buy local instead of just stopping by the nearest Kroger?
Shopping for locally sourced food has a myriad of benefits for producers and consumers alike. With less steps between you and the food’s source, purchasing local foods allows for less chances of contamination, decreased presence of chemical enhancers and a limited environmental impact. Additionally, buying local foods not only stimulates the local economy, but can even help build a sense of community through the shared support of neighborhood producers and distributors. Luckily for those interested, Bloomington has plenty of opportunities to shop locally.
A community staple since its founding in 1976, Bloomingfoods Co-op partners with more than 95 local and regional producers to provide healthy and sustainable products for local residents. Designated as a co-op, Bloomingfoods is owned, operated and governed by local community members. Bloomingfoods offers a large selection of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, snacks and drinks, even serving house-made deli sandwiches. The organization prioritizes products that are organically grown, contain natural ingredients, are non-GMO and are affordable for consumers. Bloomingfoods has regular sales events and community engagement programs such as the “Positive Change Register Round-Up Program,” which allows shoppers to raise money for local nonprofits. Bloomingfoods maintains two storefronts in the area, Bloomingfoods East at 3220 E. Third St. and Bloomingfoods Near West at 316 W. Sixth St., which are open to residents daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. respectively.
Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market
For decades, the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market has been a way for residents and visitors to find the best produce the city has to offer. Hosting more than 40 vendors every weekend, residents can find many different locally sourced items, from produce to coffee to hand-picked flower arrangements. Shoppers can even find handmade soaps and decorations in the market. To sell at the farmers market, farm vendors must reside and produce their goods in Indiana and are expected to participate in the production of goods offered for sale, as the goal of the market is to support small farmers. Food and beverage artisan stands are selected to sell at the market based on their menu, price, product balance, customer satisfaction, use of local products and location. Local shoppers can stop by the market, hosted at the Showers Commons at 401 N. Morton St. every Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Bethel Lane Farm Stop
Bethel Lane Farm Stop is a collective of four farms in the Unionville and Bloomington area that is working to build the local food economy. The farm stop utilizes an everyday farmers’ market that sells produce, meat, eggs and dairy from nearby farms. The farm stop has an “honor system” meaning that the market is self-serve and customers are expected to pay for their items in cash boxes located around the market. In addition to the regular products sold at the market, shoppers can expect to see varying seasonal items available each week including apple cider, granola, jam, popcorn, flowers and pumpkins. Bethel Lane Farm Stop at 4741 E. Bethel Lane is open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.