Local-More Thoughts

Last post focused on food security and local sourcing. Continuing and expanding this outside food is today’s topic.

The local economy and community foster stability. One sign I remember seeing is that a dollar spent locally can touch up to 7 businesses before leaving the community. That means a downtown area with open stores, not boarded up windows. Local stores means jobs and social interaction that can strengthen the bond people develop to their town.

The best example of this is Kuzan’s, our local hardware store about 5 minutes from the farm. Not only do they offer filling of propane tanks, shed and carport sales but equipment rental. We have often rented a trailer for about $35/rental. (More economical than buying a trailer and having to maintain and store one!) The men help put it onto the hitch and hookup and check that the lights are working. They also usually have it taken off and put away while returning the trailer and getting the final paperwork. This type of service is extraordinary.

Added to this is the level of help in the other half of the store. It is common to walk in with a bolt or screw, show it to one of the employees and they will take to directly to the correct bin where you can buy a replacement (or two) that are an exact match. No need to buy a prepackaged number that gives you too many or standing looking at a display trying to guess which package matches the item in your hand. Priceless!

This is just one example of the benefits of a smaller, local business.

I have nothing against the big box stores or internet sellers and will use them but my first stop is local most of the time. There is value in having these local resources stay in business because they provide services not available elsewhere. If this makes me old-fashioned, so be it. I hope that you will join me in protecting and supporting local.

Local–Does It Matter?

Last night at Farmhouse Kitchen on Penn Avenue in West Reading this question was part of a lively discussion. Food and nutrition were the main focus (we were in a restaurant, after all) but this could also reflect one’s overall philosophy for consumerism.

Local food has a smaller carbon footprint and usually is fresher, being available for sale nearer the time of harvest. This is in contrast to the example given last night of bananas shipped hundreds of miles then kept in storage for up to 3 months before heading to the grocery store. “How can they be sold for $0.49/pound?” asked one of the participants. Good question without an obvious answer.

Besides learning where your food comes from and how it’s grown, buying local creates opportunity for community. Personal relationships with farmers, suppliers and local retailers strengthen the local economy and foster education. Asking questions about new foods, storage and cooking methods from the local producer or even from other customers standing in line with you at a farmers’ market expands your food world.

In our culture of fast, convenient and immediate, it may seem revolutionary to talk about taking time to find local food and talk to people. Start slow by looking where food comes from in the grocery store or making one trip per month to a local farmers’ market. The old saying of “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” by Lao Tzu applies to lifestyle changes–ones that stick with you. Enjoy the journey and maybe we’ll meet at the farmers’ market.

By the way, my answer to the original question is “Yes.”