In 2005, a group of women in San Francisco had an idea—what if we challenged people to eat only foods that were grown within a 100-mile radius? ­They maintained that local products are more nutritious and better-tasting (because they’re fresher, with no preservatives), and that this practice would support local farmers and other food producers. [read: The best questions to ask at your local farmers' market]

It would also be environmentally friendly, because transporting food long distances requires more fuel and therefore leads to more harmful emissions. The word spread quickly, and by 2007, the New Oxford American Dictionary chose the catchy name they coined for their movement—“locavore”—as its Word of the Year. The locavore movement is similar to the “shop local” philosophy, which means purchasing all of your goods and services from small, locally owned businesses. 




Shop Small

Small Business Saturday, held on the Saturday after ­Thanksgiving, was designated by American Express in 2010 to help small businesses attract customers during the busiest holiday-shopping weekend of the year.

When you shop local—buying from locally owned small businesses rather than national chains—you keep more money and jobs in the community and you likely also get more personalized customer service. American Express cardholders who sign up for the free Shop Small program earn extra incentives all year long when they use their card at participating retailers, and the incentives are often double what they’re already earning (for example, 2 airline miles for every dollar spent, rather than the usual 1 mile, if you have a Delta SkyMiles card). 






Localize is a shelf-labeling program that helps grocers and food producers attract customers to products made locally. The easy-to-spot shelf tags showcase important information at a glance, including where the item was made, and include QR codes that shoppers can scan for additional product information.

Localize labels increase sales by an average of 10 percent, and grocers who use the program also have access to Localize’s growing database of suppliers close to them.

Although the program is currently available only in Canada, marketing manager Heather Watson reports that a U.S. expansion is in the works. In the meantime, look for similar programs in your favorite grocery stores; many have their own in-store programs to call out locally made products using shelf tags or signs.





LoLo—Locals Supporting Locals—turns all of your credit and debit cards into rewards cards. When you register your cards and shop at participating LoLocations, you earn LoDough toward future purchases. LoLo is currently active in only a handful of states, but if you visit, you can find out how to bring it to your community.