Dear Foodie: Going Local vs Big Box Store Savings

Dear Foodie,

I keep hearing that if I buy from locally owned restaurants and stores, I keep dollars in my community.  The “go local” people act like I’m taking food out of my children’s mouths by buying at my favorite discount big box stores.  I really like the bargains I get there and I can do one stop shopping.  What am I to do?


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Dear Traitor,

Just kidding.  You are sounding the mantra of millions of your closest friends.  In these recessionary days, cost is important to everyone with the exception of Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan and the other fat cats of Wall Street who manage to get rich off of selling us credit cards we don’t need, investments that are too good to be true, and mortgages that tank and cause US to lose our jobs.  But as Dear Foodie likes to say – there is no wrong answer – you must make an informed choice.

You can continue shopping your big box stores and support the American corporate shareholder structure that has done pretty well for us for over 200 years.  Or, you can be part of a moving tidal wave that even your big box store is catching onto.  People are beginning to see the value of buying from and supporting local, independently owned stores and restaurants.  As the world grows bewilderingly crazy, we are all seeking the warmth of seeing, touching, and feeling – be it food or goods (don’t follow the lead of politicians and do it to people either in person or virtually).  We are also realizing we can actually live with less – who needs one more jacket or one more rutabaga slicer?  Or, that we can conserve better – we throw away 40 percent of our food in this country.

So, here are some reasons to go local:  money back into the community (250 percent more given to non-profits by local independents and dollars back); uniqueness that appeals to our desire for an experience besides writing a check; environmental impact is less because goods have traveled fewer miles; jobs are created; service is better when the storekeeper knows he will see you in church this Sunday; diversity of goods – these are just a few of the things that appeal to us and why the local movement is likely a trend that is more than a fad.  The world has changed, my dear, and your big box store is getting with the program.  Notice Walmart ads that shout:  BUY LOCAL while in the background an 18 wheeler emblazoned with WAL-MART rolls buy.

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