Urban living certainly does not provide us with the optimal environment to live a holistic life that is in harmony with nature, a life where the rhythm of the season dictates what foods are grown and what foods we eat—here, we do not have sprawling dairy farms, miles of coastal fishing, and acres of land brimming with seasonal vegetables, but despite these drawbacks, we do not have a magnificent assortment of small local shops that specialize in everything from vegan foods to organic meats. Often tucked between national supermarket chains, these independently-owned shops are little gold mines, seeming throwbacks to a time when food was respected and revered, when the ritual of buying food was as important as sitting down to eat it. So, the next time you venture out to shop, consider these reasons for doing all you shopping locally.
1. Local shops are often specialty shops: in these shops, the owners and their staff really do know what they sell and from where it originates—your local butcher will not give you chop meat laced with horse meat; in fact, your butcher will not only know from where the meat originated, but also how you like it cut.
2. Local shops carry the freshest foods: because local shops are relatively small, they don’t buy in bulk, an especially important factor when buying produce. Think of how many times you have bought “fresh” produce from a supermarket only to have it wilt the following day. Next day wilting is a rare occurrence from produce purchased at local shops because these shops will usually buy their produce from farms that require a few hours travel instead of a few days; additionally, the farms will only sell what is in season—in these shops, you will not find a watermelon in January; for the mid-winter melon, head to Key Food.
3. Local food is often GMO-free: Biotechnology companies are eager to commercialize genetically modified fruits and vegetables, but currently they are licensed only to large factory-style farms. Although, local farmers can get GMO seeds, most of them don’t use it, and if they did, your local shop most probably would not buy from those farmers.
4. Buying locally gives back to the community and not just monetarily: if local businesses are well-supported, they will be more likely to support community events and schools, sponsor sports teams and clubs, help build parks, etc, in turn creating a deeper relationship between people and the neighborhood in which they live..
5. Reduced Waste: locally sourced products require less packaging because they don’t make trans-atlantic trips—oranges coming from 100 miles away are less likely to get bruised or rot than oranges arriving from places that are thousands of miles away. Less packaging means less consumer waste and less unnecessary garbage piling into landfills.
Please support your community by shopping locally.
Here are some local gems in Astoria:
Cassinelli Food Products: fresh pasta made on-premise
3112 23rd Ave
Rosario’s Deli: classic Italian deli with specially imported items
255 31st St
Astoria Bier and Cheese: if you love cheese, then you will love this shop.
Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery: famous for their pizza, they have superb pound cakes, cookies, and bread baked fresh daily
2240 31st St
Parrot Coffee European Gourmet Food: specializes in ethnic foods, cheese, olives, breads, coffee, and grocery
3112 Ditmars Blvd