The Western Montana Growers Cooperative makes it easier for wholesale and individual customers to buy local food products, by distributing our growers’ local food to restaurants, groceries and some local schools. The concept of “buying local” is simply to purchase food from your local community. For us, that community is western Montana, from the Bitterroot to Glacier, from Missoula to Helena. There are many reasons to buy local, as shown below, and for WMGC the most important reasons are superior quality and freshness, contributing to the local economy, and reduced environmental impacts.
Direct Contributions from buying local:
- Receive quality and freshness and superior taste
- Our produce is harvested the day before it is delivered, so that when the customer purchases it, the food is fresh and full of flavor
- Protect your health
- Since our produce does not need to survive long shipping days or protective packaging, our growers do not require chemical inputs, which means less chemical inputs for the consumer
- Contribute significantly to our local economy
- If everyone Montana household spent $10 a week on locally grown food, $186 million would go back into Montana’s economy1
- Helps small, family farmers
- The average size of our members’ farms is 6 acres, and by being a member of WMGC, they can make a living wage and keep doing what they love
- Build community
- Farmers, chefs, produce managers, and families get to know each other and work together in the local food system
- Reduce environmental impacts
- Reduce reliance on oil
- Today, the ingredients for an average meal travel over 1,500 miles.2 Food from WMGC only travels between 30 and 190 miles.
- Reduces air pollution
- Local foods spend less time on the road, reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants
- Reduces wasteful packaging
- As WMGC food is not shipped long distances, it does not require extra protective packaging
- Preserve habitat and the local landscape of western Montana
- Allowing small farmers to stay in farming means less land is developed for commercial uses. Farmland offers habitat to numerous species of birds, wildlife and critical insect life. In addition, the beautiful rural landscape of our communities remain intact.
1 – Research from Mission Mountain Market, a project of Lake County Community Development
2 – Pirog, Rich. “Checking the Food Odometer: Comparing Food Miles for Local Versus Conventional Produce Sales in Iowa Institutions.” Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. July 2003.
Other Sources: Farm Hands, Alternative Energy Resources Organization, Mission Mountain Market, Sustainable Table, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture