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Why is Buying Local Such a Big Deal?

April 20, 2012

As we get enmeshed in this year’s Presidential election process we are going to hear a lot of noise about the economy and fingers will be pointed and blame will be thrown. But I want you to consider how this all can change if we, each one of us, makes a change in the way we make purchases. This is completely apolitical, but it is involved and active.

I remember in the 1960s that my parents, having lived through World War II, were dismayed as more and more manufactured products started being imported from Japan. They were not carrying grudges or being bigoted but were angry that American  jobs were being lost in the name of bigger corporate profits.   Through my own lifetime and yours we have seen factories close down and the owners move their processing to less expensive locations overseas.

We are annoyed about not understanding the customer service rep’s foreign accent when we call an 800-number but we actually should be jealous at their ability to speak English so well.  (I wish I was fluent in another language, even if I had a bad accent.) We should not be angry with that person; we should be really annoyed that the company we patronize is not hiring people here in the United States. We should consider why we patronize them.

I remember as Wal-Mart started to spread across the country their big emphasis was on selling American made goods.  And you hardly ever see a product made in America sold there. Why? The profit margin on products made in developing countries is larger for that corporation.  You don’t hear that anymore.~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~This is not a new issue. It is interesting to consider that Thomas Jefferson once said, “I have come to a resolution myself … never again to purchase any article of foreign manufacture which can be had of American make.”  His actions were REVOLUTIONARY back in those days but perhaps it is time again to look at what each of us can do for our economy.

Roger Simmermaker is the author of “How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism.”  He recently posted an article cautioning people that the foods that they purchase at farmers markets may not actually be local and may also not even be grown in the United States.

As more and more people have begun to wake up to the local foods movement and using farmers markets as a resource, it becomes increasingly important that the  managers of the markets verify that the people selling the produce and products ARE local farmers. Consumers should be able to know where the farms are located and the growing methods used.

If you are a supplier at a local market, make a sign indicating where your farm is. If you are shopping at a farmers market, ask the sellers where they come from and how they raised their food.

And if you see a watermelon in May, or strawberries in April, or corn in May… already know it is not local unless you are in California or Florida. Ask. And then, decide you can wait for when the produce is in season, and walk away.

Instant gratification needs to end. We have to have a longer view now.  You will be helping your local and the national economy.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2012 7:05 am

    The last five years my wife and I bought almost all our food at the Boulder Farmer’s Market in Colorado where we lived and we bought our meat at a local bison ranch which would bring in local lamb, beef, pork and elk to their shop as well. We also got milk from a local farmer (and meat when they had it). The Boulder market is one that requires all products sold there to be sold by the farmers that grew them, so you know what you are getting, which not all markets do. I know of at least one in the Denver metro area that used to have produce from out of state that came in on big semi trucks–no diffferent than going to a big chain grocery store. So you are so right about confirming where the farm is and the food is coming from. The Boulder farmer’s market closed in the fall so we preserved a lot in a freezer and makeshift root cellar. The guys I worked with would say we were spending too much on groceries, but they also ate fast food most days for lunch, so I figure our food bill was actually lower and healthier. Plus, we had much lower wastage. I would cook a meal and we had leftovers for a couple of days which almost always were eaten. You may have noticed at dinner time a lot of food ads on the TV, followed by ads for digestive and antacid drugs. The reason is most people eat stuff that really isn’t food and it screws up the digestive process. Just like the cows on feed lots need alot of drugs, because they’re not eating grass like they were meant too.

    Buying local is way better, the vegetables are fresher and last much longer than what you get in a supermarket, plus you can probably visit the farm and see how they are produced and the money stays in the local economy. A lot of vegetables in supermarkets may be cheaper, but you get bonus chemicals with them. So you may think you’re eating healthy, but instead getting a continous low dose of all kinds of things that will probably cause long term health problems.

    • April 20, 2012 7:12 am

      It really seems to be a no brainer but apparently a lot of people are NOT using their brains. I am self employed and work about 4 passions of mine. One is books and last summer I was helping at a local book sale, cashiering on the sale days in the cookbook room. Even at Bag Sale time (fill up a large paper sack for $5) people were walking out with NOTHING. I asked…Do you eat? Yes. Do you cook? Don’t know how. Buy a cookbook, in fact TAKE one for free! The sickening answer most of the time was why should I bother to cook when McDonalds is so easy to go to? I looked at him and told him he was missing a lot and let it go…he was so completely missing the boat I couldn’t throw the life preserver in time to save him.

      • April 26, 2012 7:34 am

        I am continually surprised by how many people do not cook. I find it really relaxing and statisfying. I used to work a 12 hour night shift, get home sleep until 2pm, get up and cook a meal for my wife. Takes anywhere from 1/2 hour to three hours depending on the meal. It also relieves stress.

  2. Dubrovniklady permalink
    April 20, 2012 9:11 am

    It is time for us to realize that our own purchasing can start a movement to improve the economy. It is time to get off our duffs and realize personal responsibility goes beyond complaining and let us all begin to make better choices.

    • April 20, 2012 9:18 am

      You’re right but a lot of people are just complainers and change is hard… in Huntington a group of peolle are planning to start a local food hub which will function like a grocery store, open year round. Hopefully, that will make it convenient for people to access high quality local produce and meats and other farm products.

  3. April 20, 2012 10:33 pm

    Voting one mouthful at a time to see this movement grow. I feel sorry for folks who have never experienced what fresh produce tastes like. Keep up the good fight, Beth!!! You go, girl!!

    • April 21, 2012 6:17 am

      Well, the steps to open a local food hub here in this town are picking up the pace….the name will be decided on Monday and yours truly will be adding writing ANOTHER blog to get the word out. This can be a new career as a rabble raiser. LOL

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