The other day, I bought a loaf of artisan bread at a supermarket. It even happened to be a locally owned, single-location supermarket.
But then I looked at the label and saw it was made in California. I live in Massachusetts.
I’ve got plenty of stuff in my pantry that made a long trip–but for the most part, it’s stuff for which there is no local source. I can’t get chocolate of any sort, let alone the organic fair trade chocolate that I buy, that’s grown within even 1000 miles of my house. Ditto with olives, Indian pickles, etc. I can buy from local companies that import the stuff, but it will never be locally grown unless global warming happens a *lot* faster than I think it will.
The bread made me feel guilty, though. Within 10 miles of my house there are close to a dozen quality bakers, most of them locally owned and operated. I buy a lot of bread from them.
And part of my belief in people helping people is buying local, keeping money in my own local economy (or the local economy where I happen to be traveling)–as well as, where practical, reducing my environmental footprint. So I shop local a lot. The majority of my food dollars, at least in the summer time, are spent at farmer’s markets, our local Community Supported Agriculture farm store. I’ve even managed to find a local supplier for the recycled paper I feed my computer printer.
But in two ways, I’m not a purist. I do spend a fair amount of money in the local branches of nationally owned food stores, because selection, price, and convenience make that a sensible path for me, at least in the winter. (I’ve been shifting more and more to local markets, however–and when I happen to be in the town 25 miles form me with that local supermarket, I shop there.)
And I’m not yet willing to live the stark and barren life without the stuff that doesn’t grow around here. I want my daily cup of cocoa, my wife wants her black tea, we add those Oriental hot sauces to our cooking.
But bread? What was I thinking?
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), a nationwide network working on keeping money in the local economy. Website is unintuitive–even s a member, I had to hunt for it: http://www.livingeconomies.org/
Community Involved in Local Agriculture, a group here in Western mass focusing on buying local.