Saturday, January 3, 2009

We're in this Together: In Difficult Economic Times, Shop Local, and Encourage Visitors to Shop in Your Community

Consumers wield great power by how they spend their dollar. Why is China becoming the next global superpower? Why are a large percentage of American farmers living near or below the poverty line? Because American shoppers can't resist a good deal. If they can save two dollars buying imported vegetables instead of buying vegetables from the farmer down the road, 9 times out of 10 they'll buy the cheap veggies.

Keep in mind, there's always a reason why a food can be sold so cheaply. Maybe it'd help to just let your mind imagine all the cost-cutting choices a fast food franchise could make to sell a 99 cent burger.

At the same time, keep in mind, we live in an era of globalization. The lines between nations are blurred. When it comes to new technology, all bet's are off. And it'd be very crippling to our economy to attempt reversing the current lines of world commerce.

In the green technology sector (sustainable vehicles, renewable energy, etc.), the U.S. has A LOT of catching up to do. That doesn't mean we should avoid purchasing and supporting green tech. On the contrary, buy and support all green technology regardless of where it originated - the nature of capitalism will propel American companies to meet the consumers green tech demand.

However, when purchasing food, keep the following in mind:

• Look at the label to make sure the product was made in New York. The closer to your community, the better. Look for any opportunity to buy food from your neighbors.

• Always be on the look-out for pancake breakfasts, chicken BBQs, ham dinners, etc. put on by your local church, fire dept, or community organization.

• Shop at your local merchants and food producers, even if it means adding $10 onto your weekly spending. You might save gas money, and consider the extra cost "survival dues" for the local economy.

• We live in a nation of high mobility. Even if your community is not necessarily a tourist destination, walk the streets regularly and keep an eye out for people who are visiting or just passing through. Take the opportunity to talk to the visitors, be friendly, and promote your local merchants.

• If there's no Farmers Market in your community, encourage one and help promote it. If there is a Farmers Market in your community, shop at it regularly and help promote it.

Maybe you've heard this all before, but it's a new year, and the prognosticators are saying this will be an economically difficult year. Let's set a goal to invest our communities, pay that little extra for locally produced food. As hard as times may get, we're all in this together, and the food producers and local merchants in your community will need your support.