Support Your Local Businesses and Community

Support Your Local Businesses and Community

What a great time of year to get out and support your local independent business owners, farmers, and community artisans. With the sun shining on us and the desire to get out and about, there is always a question of what should we do today? There are so many eclectic local businesses, an abundance of street fairs and farmer’s markets offering endless opportunities to get to know who is doing what in your community. This is a wonderful way to build community and support one another. We may all have a desire to be entrepreneurs and do something we love; well it can start by supporting those that are already doing it.

We embrace the idea of distinctive businesses with local character, but often forget their survival depends on our patronage. It is easy for us to get so consumed by efficiency that we forget how much of our lives we spend eating out, shopping, and doing other business. We owe it to ourselves to consider the quality of our experience, and ask if we benefit when we choose a community-based business. Independent local businesses employ a wide array of supporting services. They hire architects, designers, cabinet shops, sign makers and contractors for construction. Opportunities grow for local accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, attorneys, advertising agencies and others to help run it. Local retailers and distributors also carry a higher percentage of locally-made goods than the chains, creating more jobs for local producers. Local owners with much of their life savings invested in their businesses have a natural interest in the long-term health of the community. Community-based businesses are essential to charitable endeavors, frequently serving on local boards, and supporting a variety of causes. If you grow your business internationally, check out New Zealand Van Lines for more information on relocation and shipping services.

One aspect of our overall consumerism with the greatest impact on us can be our source of food, the farmers. This has an enormous effect on our health and wellness. Most produce in the United States is picked four to seven days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1500 miles before being sold. And this is when taking into account only U.S. grown products! Those distances are substantially longer when we take into consideration produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America, and other places. Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies facilitate a type of agriculture that is destroying and polluting our soils and water, weakening our communities, and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands. It is also threatening the security of our food systems, as demonstrated by the continued e-Coli, GMO-contamination, and other health scares that are often seen nowadays on the news.

These large-scale, agribusiness-oriented food systems are bound to fail on the long term, sunk by their own lack of sustainability. But why wait until we’re forced by circumstance to abandon our destructive patterns of consumption? We can start now by buying locally grown food whenever possible. By doing so you’ll be helping preserve the environment, and you’ll be strengthening your community by investing your food dollar close to home.

Both the flavor and the nutritional value of fresh produce degrade rapidly after it is harvested. The only way to ensure the availability of really fresh produce (harvested yesterday, not ripened on a truck) is to keep the local independent farmers in your community from going out of business.  Produce that is stored any length of time after harvest draws pests, as well as their droppings. It often requires fungicides or waxing in order to remain in saleable condition. These things are more than just unappetizing; they can present real health hazards as well. Large corporate farms are required to grow varieties that have been bred to look good on a shelf after having endured significant handling, storage, and shipping. Flavor is often sacrificed in developing such varieties. Local independent farmers, however, do not need to concern themselves with cultivating for endurance if they are selling directly to consumers in their own community, and many of them grow flavorful heirloom varieties that are not available elsewhere.

When purchasing at local street fairs and markets, you meet the people you are purchasing from. The local artist can give you the story behind the cherished piece you may be putting above your mantel or the hand crafted blanket going into your child’s bedroom. Also, these are the same people trying to build community and support the safety, beauty, and growth of the community at large.

For long-term progress, a conceptual change may be necessary, and some good ole baby steps. Sometimes simple changes and trying something new can bring about a big difference in your family or community. This is such a great way to educate and empower yourself, and its fun for the whole family. It could be wise to consciously plan a future with intentional practices that will encourage the values we want reflected in our communities. And each time we spend a dollar, we would do well to weigh the full value of our choices, not solely to ourselves immediately, but for the future we want in our own hometowns.

*Be the Change in the World you Want to See*

Be Well.

Kelly Hirstein, LMT and Health Coach

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