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What is “local” anyway? July 24, 2009

Posted by Sandy in Musings.
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Even locavores can disagree on what constitutes locally produced food. Is it food that has been grown and processed within 100 miles of your home, within 50 miles, within your home state, or within your county? For non-locavores, shopping locally might include purchasing Mexican grown watermelon from your locally owned market; books printed in China from your independent bookstore; and yarn from your neighbor who raises the sheep and spins their wool in her home. It is this type of ambiguity which has begun to present a new challenge to independent business owners.

Shopping locally is an important way to keep our communities flourishing. As our economy flounders and more businesses shut their doors, chambers of commerce and other organizations are promoting “Buy Local” as a way to prevent or reverse the downward turn in their hometowns. The question is, what does “Buy Local” mean? Just as the word “organic” was co-opted by large corporations with a nose for profit, the term “local” has become the latest catchword to be bandied about by the same national and global giants.

Stacy Mitchell, author of Big Box Swindle, has written a thoughtful and illuminating article for Seven Days about this alarming trend. If you’re looking for more reading on the topic, here are a few possibilities:

Food, Inc.

Deep Economy

The New Village Green

The Transition Handbook

Lifting the Yoke

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