May 22, 2011 Comments Off on Buying Local
One of my favorite past times is going to the Farmers Markets. With the opening of the fabulous Kitsilano Farmers Market is has sparked some interest to share the benefits of buying locally sourced food.
The ostensible economic benefits of buying local are fairly simple: It cuts out the middleman, puts more money into the local economy, and reduces transportation costs and environment-destroying, energy-wasting long hauls.
Now this might be a lot to swallow in one gulp, however when it comes down to buying local it’s a win, win situation. For starters, the middleman doesn’t live in Middle Earth. He’s often local and dependent upon large companies with better economies of scale to provide him with products he can afford to buy wholesale and for which there is a large enough market to resell profitably.
As for local money staying in the local economy, when you walk into your least-favorite national chain store, no one working behind the counter is likely to be someone who you have developed a relationship with, well maybe but try walking into a locally owned store and you will feel the difference instantly.
If the farmer next door happens to be Monsanto, you rethink buying local. What buying local really means is buying boutique-branded artisanal products that are crafted with tender loving care by actual human beings.
Witness the success of the slightly-more-expensive-but-supposedly-made-with-love-by-seemingly-small-companies Muir Glen, Kashi, and Odwalla — owned by General Mills, Kellogg, and Coca-Cola, respectively. Large corporations certainly aren’t unaware of local appeal and are happy to exploit it as a marketing tool.
The challenge for the socially conscious consumer is to determine whether a “local” purchase actually achieves what it’s supposed to achieve — a decision that should be made without fear of death and dismemberment.