Buy Local

Where do you buy your stuff? What kind of companies do you support? Do you even care?

These are questions I've been asking myself lately. It's brought to mind a blog I used to read. You can check it out here. Be warned...there is an expletive in the title of the website. I wish they didn't do that, but they did. So if that offends you...just pretend it's not there. Anyway...this person decided that they were going to stop supporting large chain grocery stores, instead only shopping at the local markets. It's an interesting read. The experiment is over now...but you can still read about it there.

So, I've been wondering if I could do that. I always make a conscious effort to support my local organic grocer, New City Market, who is just a mile away from us. Even when the price is a little higher, I will still buy it at New City because I know them, I trust them, and I would much rather give them my money. If there are things I can't get there, I go to the larger, but still locally owned Dahl's, or Hy-Vee. I try to avoid SuperTarget and WalMart.

However, up until now, I've been very loose on this. And lazy. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. But, I would like to do better. I would like to ONLY shop at locally owned stores. But not just for food...for everything. I've been giving this a lot of thought. For example...WHY do I NEED to go to SuperTarget for anything? What is there that I just couldn't possibly purchase somewhere else? That place sucks the life out of me. I walk in there and want want want. And it’s always stuff I don’t need at all. But they make me think I NEED it. Everything is so pretty and bright and it all calls my name. I hate slick marketing, and yet I fall prey to it. So, I want to stop going.

In order to do this, I may have to change my menu and my habits just a bit...but not much. I will have to buy food that is in season, because, for the most part, New City carries what is either in season, or something that they can get pretty easily. Most of my groceries consist of bulk products (dry beans, rice, dried fruits, etc). And it’s all organic so it tends to be produced on a smaller farm (this is not always the case, however, so please know your organic farms). I just want to be aware of WHERE my food is coming from and also how many miles on the road it took some gas guzzling truck to get it there.

I would much rather eat an apple that came from Washington, instead of New Zealand. Or better yet, an apple orchard in Pella, IA. It's a great day when I find those! Summer and farmer's markets make this part easier. This can be tough if you love avocados and mangos, like I do. They usually come from Chili, Mexico, or another tropical location. However, I feel that when you buy those products organic, you ARE supporting the small local farmers in that country. If you read the tags, you can sometimes go to the website of the farm and see the cute farmer guys who make your mango.

For other goods such as clothing, housewares, jewelry, etc…I am still able to shop locally. We have several great shops close to us that have everything I need. It’s just a matter of making the decision. When I need a can of paint, do I want to support giant big boxmart…WalMart, Home Depot, Sam’s…or can I go to Ace Hardware or another local store? When I need new socks or a t-shirt, should I go to Target or instead go to Back Country Outfitters, where I can get organic and non-sweatshop clothing.

So…I CHALLENGE you to think about buying locally…and buying with a conscious. Know what the companies are all about…what do they support? Your money is POWER. Don’t give it to companies who don’t deserve your business! The main objection to this is usually cost (i.e. "my local grocer is too expensive...etc.). I know that if you plan better and budget better, it's very easy to practice this. Also, don't forget that when you shop at big box stores, you are not actually seeing the TRUE price of a product.

As we approach the Christmas season, think about giving locally made gifts...soaps, jewelry, candles, and other goods made by local artists. If you are in a place where there aren't any options like that for you, check out Etsy (link below)'s like eBay for handmade stuff. It's awesome.

Some great links: Top 10 reasons to buy local Local Harvest An interesting blog on this topic Etsy...handmade stuff