19 Aug 2017

Buying Local

            A friend of mine has this thing - during the summer, she doesn't go into grocery stores. At all.
            It's not that she somehow doesn't eat for several months - instead she frequents the abundance of local fruit and vegetable markets and roadside stands that populate our part of the world. Even for other food groups (though, who needs other food groups in peach season?!), she finds local places: the local cheese maker, the free-run egg seller, the local butcher.  We share tips for where to get the best products and prices.
            This week, I popped into a chain grocery store - I needed more canning jar sealers and lemon juice - to preserve that glorious local fresh produce! - and I saw a rather surprising sight.
            There were people flocking to bins of imported fruits and vegetables. The prices were higher than what I had paid to the local farmer, the fruit was smaller, and (having traveled goodness knows how long to arrive) was significantly less fresh.
            Now, I know that there are reasons to buy from a grocery store - if transportation is a problem, for example. But for the majority of folks, we don't have a legitimate reason to avoid supporting our local folks... we have some form of transport that can be used to get around (cars, bikes, friends with cars, &c.). There are farmers markets that open up in town and city centres to make the produce readily available. With a little planning, time is not a constraint. I could go on.
            Supporting our local folks helps to build community. The more we talk with our farmer-neighbours, the better we can respect the folks who are literally feeding us. The more we connect to our food chain, the more we can understand the natural systems of seasons and rhythms - and actually improve our food security. The more we support local shops, the better our local economy is.
            There are lots of reasons to focus on community, and we are all invited to take part. Community building is a key part of the Christian life: Jesus built community, each of the disciples built community, we are encouraged to continue to build community - it's part of our faith journey.
            The great thing about building community is that it doesn't have to be difficult: it can be choosing a locally owned grocery store instead of a big box chain. It can be bypassing the self-serve line to be cashed out by a human staff, thereby keeping employment option. It can be as easy as purchasing seasonal produce from our local farmers.
            It can take some time and intentionality, but it is worth it.

            How can you build or enhance your community this week?

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