By Nathan, on August 2nd, 2011
Most big industries out there are against the thought of localizing yourself. When I say “localization” I do not mean totally local to the exclusion of trade. I mean that when it comes to choosing food and wares, if it is possible to choose a local store or product and keep the money in the community as much as possible, you should. It is not always possible, mind you and it never has been. Interstate and international trade has been around as long as there has been civilization. You can never be 100% local when it comes to products and luxuries, but you can be 98% local when it comes to food and beverages, and where you buy your house, products, and consumables. I’m actually pretty strong on this position for a few reasons.
- Quality Control – A local food source is healthier than food transported over thousands of miles. A product that is produced and sold locally is also likely to be of higher quality (with more of the profit distributed back into the community) than one shipped in for one major, simple reason: That producer/proprietor has to face their customers regularly. Really face them. Face to face.
- Local Businesses have local interests. Local businesses, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and local venues need to please their market, which as I have just stated, is much more immediate than a customer base that is on the other side of the country or world. So if a local businessman is unscrupulous, the chance of them staying in business is very small. But, as we have seen quite often as of late, this isn’t the case oftentimes with conglomerates. So, a local business is more likely to provide a high quality product line or store environment and customer relationship than a non-local competitor.
- Where everybody knows your name. There is something, even for an introvert, to being recognized and treated like a friend. Older folks might remember a time when they could walk into a store and have the clerk know their name and ask them how things in their family, school and social grouping were shaping up. When was the last time you walked into a Kroger or Safeway and got that kind of interest handed to you? Your Wells-Fargo? There is something wonderful about walking into a local bookstore or record store and having the person at the counter excitedly tell you about a new acquisition that they think you would be interested in. Hulu and Pandora try to do this for me, but when a disembodied screen flashes my name and says, “Nathan, 73% of people who like Show A, are interested in Show X” it’s kind of creepy.
- Neighbors helping neighbors. You have heard me talk about CSAs and ASCs before and you probably will again (and again). I feel that it is not just about food quality (but that is a MASSIVE part of it!) but about people helping people. CSAs are not factory farms and ranches. They are locally owned and community supported. The fruits, vegetables and meat come directly from where they were grown to your table. Within days of being picked or slaughtered. The money you pay them assures you a part of that harvest or animal. In the case of animals, you know precisely how they are raised and treated, and what they are being fed. This kind of transparency is vital to deciding your diet. ASCs (Agriculture Supported Communities) are community owned garden plots that members of the community grow for the community. Everybody plants, tends and harvests for those in the community. It is communal, so to speak. Not individuals growing only for themselves, but also for their neighbors. The harvest is for all. Stone Soup without the necessary duplicity.
There are times when local is not possible or desirable, I know. I subscribe to Netflix (which put many, many local video stores out of business) and am an Amazon member (which has put many, many stores in general out of business). But I still would rather when possible, get my books, records/tapes/CDs , tools and appliances from local stores; if for no other reason than I can have it now. I can hold it in my hands (in some cases smell all of the other hands which have held it) and take it home the day I want it. What better luxury is there?