(In the days and weeks to come, I’ll be starting a new blog series, “Loca for Local” where I will share my favorite spots in the Shenandoah Valley for good food, fun, and shopping. Today’s article is a quick glance into why supporting local business is important.)
Every day we are surrounded by choices. We choose where we eat, what we wear, who we talk with, what we buy, and thousands of other choices every moment of every day. Sometimes we make the same choices over and over again without noticing the effects our choices have on those around us and things we value most. A lot of times we never connect the dots between what we do and what that may lead to.
That was how I lived for many years. I took long showers and left lights on without thinking about the effects on the environment, I tried to find the best bargain for my dollar without wondering why things were so cheap, and I spent hundreds of dollars per month on food paying companies that were (and are) destroying my neighborhood and country.
And then I woke up.
With the help of some awesome movies: “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” (available on Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube) and “Food, Inc.” (available on Netflix) and a great book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver, I realized that things in chain restaurants and fast food and big business supermarkets were cheap for a reason. They exploit their employees, they bully distributors into giving them lower prices that smaller businesses can’t compete with, they sell subpar products, they harm the land and animals they harvest, they send jobs overseas and keep workers in slave-like conditions, and they put local companies out of business.
Unfortunately, they do this while keeping a “super-American” image, tricking people into thinking they are supporting American jobs and products, when in reality they are doing the exact opposite.
Once you realize this, you might think two things:
1. I can’t afford anything different.
2. I’m too small to make a difference.
Here are my thoughts towards that…
1. If you buy at local grocery stores, farmer’s markets, farms, thrift stores, restaurants, etc., you’ll probably end up paying the same amount or less. When I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart and switched to Red Front (a locally-owned supermarket) and the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market, I actually ended up saving money. How did that happen? Well, the thing is Red Front put coupons in the aisles so I can get deals…Wal-Mart puts more crap I don’t need in the aisles on purpose so you end up buying things you didn’t come in the store for (I have this on source from my hubby who managed one in Mexico, it’s actually their strategy to trick you into buying more). Also, buying fresh ingredients and making my own food instead of packaged food saved me a chunk of change. Also, it was waaaaaaay less stressful. I hate shopping. Yet going to the farmer’s market is fun for me (that’s a big thing, me liking shopping, you can ask family and friends!). Also a “value” meal at fast food costs about the same (or sometimes more!) than getting a better meal (healthier and more delicious) at a local restaurant/food truck. In the end, you come out even. It’s just making smarter choices.
(Charis Eco Farm) (Garcia’s Artesanias)
2. Where you put your money does matter. Just add up how much you spend on food in one month. It’s a lot. Multiply that by twelve and that’s a bundle for one year. Maybe an average couple might spent $100/week on food (just a guesstimate, people, don’t get in an uproar!), which is $400 per month, which is $4,800 per year. Almost five thousand dollars! That means five thousand (or whatever your calculation came up to) of your hard-earned dollars can either go to helping your own communities and local business, or to big business companies that don’t care enough to make sure your food is safe. Every little bit counts. Everyone matters in a community. You matter and so do those around you.
(sewing class at Ragtime Fabrics)
In the end, it is up to you what you do with your money. I make a conscious choice about where I spend mine. It’s all about choice. You can choose to put your money towards a business that exploits people and kills local economy or towards a business that is the local economy. It’s up to you and me. We vote with our feet (and our wallets).
(drinking Three Brothers Ale)
It’s not hard to make the switch from big business to local. In the days and weeks to come, I’ll give my favorite local spots in the Harrisonburg area to eat and chill locally, but here are some ideas of what you can do in your neck of the woods…
- Instead of eating out at a chain restaurant, try that restaurant in town you’ve always wanted to check out!
- Johnny Appleseed’s *Blue Mountain Brewery
- Craving fast food, visit a local diner or food truck! They’ll probably be just as fast!
- Go to a thrift store the next time you want clothes. (Make sure to wash and dry them in the dryer! No bed bugs, please!)
- Visit a local hardware store instead of a big business. You might find the prices are even better! Also, people will be much more friendly and helpful!
- Shop at a small, locally-owned supermarket or your local farmer’s market. The fresher the food, the better the taste!
- (Charis Eco-Farm) * (“The Egg Lady”)
- Ask a friend or family member about their favorite local spot. Or search online! Nowadays all the information is right at your fingertips!
Okay, that’s it for me today. Stay tuned for later this week when I let you in on my favorite taco truck in the ‘burg, Delgado’s Antojitos Mexicanos!
(eating a torta loca at Delgado’s)
Read more reasons I love eating local here.