Why Buy Local

There are many reasons why grocers would look to local producers and growers to source products for their stores. The most important reason is based on customer demand. When grocery store customers let their favorite store know that they are interested in locally grown or produced products, grocers will do what they can to meet that request.

Offering local products in the store is quickly becoming a popular thing to do in the grocery business. And, while vegetables and fruits are what come to mind when people talk about buying local, the products offered are beyond the obvious.

"Buying Local" includes buying meat, dairy, cheese, spices, manufactured or processed products (like pizza made with locally grown and produced ingredients). Pierce’s Market’s (Baraboo, Portage, Madison and Mauston) General Manager Jeff Maurer believes that the ‘buy local’ concept is capturing consumer interest and sales much like “organics” did when products began being offered in grocery stores..

According to Local Harvest, most produce in the United States is picked four to seven days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1,500 miles before being sold. And this is when taking into account only US grown products! Those distances are substantially longer when we take into consideration produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America, and other places.

David Weber from Camp’s Supervalu in St. Germaine says in this day of country of origin labeling, he likes the idea that he knows the producer. “I know who grew it, where it was grown, harvested and delivered to our store unlike other products that are delivered to our place.” Weber also knows it’s important because it helps supporting the local economy. Camp’s Supervalu has been buying locally for 30 years (potatoes, corn, pumpkins) and always get great quality and if there ever is a problem, they have a relationship with the grower and resolve their issues like partners. In St. Germaine, it is a WIN (grocer) WIN (grower) and WIN (customer). “When customers pick up a product and it is from Wisconsin they are less likely to put it down and they will buy it,” said Weber.

Supporting the growth of locally grown and processed products positively impacts farmers, communities, consumer nutrition, the environment and Wisconsin’s economy. The Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection notes there are six basic reasons to Buy Local:

Reasons to Buy Local

  1. Freshness – Local food is fresher than food shipped from other states or other countries.
  2. Strengthen Local Economy – Retaining dollars in a community creates the multiplier effect, an economic principle that show dollars spent and invested locally generate more wealth in communities than dollars spent outside a community.
  3. Support Shrinking Number of Family Farms – With the highly consolidated, global food system the number of Wisconsin’s farms ranging from 50 to 999 acres has decreased by 21% (1997 to 2002). 
  4. Decrease Distance from Farm to Table – Food travels on average 1,500 miles to reach a consumer’s plate. Decreasing food miles lessens our impact on the environment and the dependence on oil.
  5. Preserves Local Farmland – By keeping family farmers in business and working on the land we preserve Wisconsin’s rural landscape.
  6. Connection – Buying locally provides the consumer the opportunity to connect with businesses to learn about their growing and management practices.

Pat Fox of Fox Brothers Piggly Wiggly in Hartland and Oconomowoc believes it is in his best interest to help the local economy. “My bread is buttered locally and the more I can do locally, the better it is for all of us", said Fox. There are several key reasons Fox buys locally including the short trucking time from harvest to the shelf is minimal and the freshness factor. And for his stores, there is more to it than produce – his favorites are unique products like Potter’s Crackers made in Wisconsin. Pat Fox is proud to be a Wisconsin grocer and wants to sell Wisconsin products to keep the Wisconsin dollar in Wisconsin.

Sellers should also be advised that many grocers prefer to have their buying decisions made from a central or corporate location. For those stores who prefer this option, we have attempted to include that information, which is why you may see a contact name and number referenced multiple times.

Users of the database should click on the Grocers in Wisconsin page of this site. Each county in the state map is a link to the grocers in that county who responded affirmatively to the survey. The store name and contacts are listed alphabetically in each county. Information on the types of products the store is interested in, plus any other information reported from the store is noted in the listing.