As the Buy Local Challenge is about to begin this Saturday (July 21st), it might be good to reflect on the importance of buying locally grown food.

Of course, vegetables and fruits raised and harvested within a few miles of your door tend to be fresher and taste better than the average food product that travels 1,500 miles, on average. However, people tend to forget about the economic benefits.

If every household were to purchase just $12 per week of locally grown food, for eight weeks, that would amount to $54 million to Southern Maryland farmers. Every $1 spent at a local business is reinvested into other local businesses, which virtually doubles the economic benefit (known as the multiplier effect.)

Today, 99% of our local household food budget leaves the region. Not only that, 39% of all fruits sold in America are imported and about 20% of all vegetables are imported, according to the USDA. In this economy, keeping our nation’s dollars home is a patriotic thing to do.

In terms of jobs created, experts estimate that we create 13 jobs for every $1 million dollars of farm revenue. The unemployment rate for young adults and returning veterans is higher than the regional average and new farm jobs would be a welcome relief for those seeking employment.

So lets get all use the Buy Local Challenge as the launching pad for a healthier local economy!