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Go local with the staples

For all the well-intentioned emphasis put on buying locally and supporting independent business, the concept can be overwhelming to the point of discouraging.

But Martin Butts, owner of Small Potatoes Sales & Marketing , says there's an easy starting point: walk into your pantry, (or open your cupboards), and pick one item to switch.

Select just one item to routinely purchase from a local source, something you can find from a local producer, or that you can purchase from an independent seller. Then, when you get used to it, pick another.

The key to "switching your sourcing," Butts says, is finding a way to do it in a manageable, sustainable way.

Overhauling the way you eat entirely, all at once, is too much to expect from the average consumer.

"I hear from people all the time, that 'that's just unreasonable'," says Butts. "And I would never ask people to do that."

Narrowing down your reasons for localizing will help determine the boundaries of what you consider local, Butts says.

"For the people that are doing it, there's always a reason," he says. "For some people it's supporting local businesses, for some its eating seasonally, or making healthier choices."

Your reasons will impact whether your definition of local -- which is different for everyone, Butts says.

For some, it means only purchasing foods produced within a certain distance from their home. For others, "local" products might still use imported ingredients, but be prepared in small batches by a local manufacturer.

There's no right or wrong, but knowing your definition and your goal in emphasizing local will help make better, more sustainable changes, Butts says.

Challenge yourself

Butts says he wouldn't expect someone to undergo a complete lifestyle change for the sake of local -- but take a 30-day challenge? Why not?

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