Vote With Your Dollars to Enrich Your Community

| 10/3/2011 9:13:56 AM

Tags: local food, organic food, fair-trade, community health, buying local, Mary Lou Shaw,

Buy food that is grown locallyMy husband and I recently had an energizing and enlightening week's visit with our former German foreign exchange student and her husband. For me, it resulted in looking at the concept of "local food" in new ways.

Their jobs are financed by businesses and their government to promote German goods in developing countries. They've discovered that the concepts of "local food," "organic food" and fair trade fit perfectly with economic development. As I listened to their stories of Brazil, Mozambique, South Africa, Pakistan and China, I realized that the economic development in those far-off countries is not so different from our own.

We may not consider ourselves a "developing country," but most of us might agree that both our rural towns and inner cities can use some development. I believe we can help enrich our own lives and our own communities by using these same three concepts.

First of all, buying food or any commodity locally helps our community beyond our single transaction. Basically, every time a dollar recycles locally, it strengthens the economic base of a community. There's nothing I enjoy more than taking the money I earn from selling eggs and honey at our farm and spending it at the local farmers market. A basic economic principle at work! Spending money locally will result in more options when shopping or finding good jobs. It will mean more money being available to fund schools and infrastructure.

Buying from people we know offers direct benefits to us also. If I buy something from a local store and it doesn't work, local business owners care about making it right. Besides getting better service, I can also buy what I want and not what someone tells me to buy. I am not just a potential sale in my town; I am a long-time customer and a fellow resident.

Additionally, buying locally makes a local community unique. Choosing to eat at small restaurants that are owned and operated by local people gives us more choice than having only chain-restaurants. Shopping at the Farmer's Market helps the market grow into having greater variety and even attracts dollars from other communities. We must invest our dollars locally if we want to live in healthy and vibrant communities.

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