Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GONE LOCAL Week Twelve: We Did It! (and YOU should too!)

For the past three months I have been buying from strictly locally owned businesses. In the beginning we all thought this was going to be a hardship, each for our own reasons. My kids worried a cheezit would never pass their lips again and I’d feed them a steady diet of kale and whole wheat noodles. My husband worried I’d spend all the money hiding under our mattresses. I mostly worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Putting aside the handful of slip-ups in regards to hairproducts and auto-repair, for the most part we have survived on the goods sold by locally owned businesses exclusively since January 1. And once more, we’ve more than survived, we’ve thrived.

We’ve saved money, time, and gas, made new friends, eaten better in terms of both taste and health, and quite honestly, had a lot of fun. Along the way, I’ve been confronted by people who thought I was just a wee-bit overboard and plenty of skeptical people, but I’ve also been helped by people who shared ideas and local sources.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GONE LOCAL Week Eleven: Lamenting Our Town's Center and a Shout-out to Locals I Love

Buying locally has become second nature for me at this point and I don’t think I can ever set foot in Wal-Mart again. At a meeting last week regarding our “town” someone said they thought that Wal-Mart was our town center. Frightening, but probably accurate. Back when I made several trips to Wal-Mart a month, I always encountered people I knew. On the weekends, there was usually a boy or girl scout troop installed at the entrance selling cookies or popcorn or some other unhealthy product I don’t need, but usually buy, because I know the kids who are doing the selling.

Our town also has a small main street with art galleries, antique stores, and even a farm-to-table restaurant. To my mind, that should be our town center, and probably was once upon a time. Now it is mostly frequented by “tourists” from the Baltimore area. I suppose the reason it’s not our town center is that, other than the restaurant, the other stores are the kind you only frequent when guests are visiting. Plus the parking isn’t very simple, although it’s free. There is a park nearby, but it is hard to find. I lived here nearly a year before I discovered it, and only because the end-of-year kindergarten party was held there.

So, I suppose that the Wal-Mart shopping center is our town center. I wish it weren’t. This is a farming town at its heart. Antiques, farm restaurants, single-shingle shops and offices make a more appropriate town center.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

GONE LOCAL Week Ten: Now's the Time

I’ve always thought that as our society has progressed (relative term), locally owned businesses have been slowly picked off one by one, leaving us with a homogenized majority of stores. The stores of my youth – the Creamy Freeze, Save-a-Cent, and Lakes Market are long gone. But as I’ve gone in search of the locally owned stores I’ve discovered there is truly an abundance of them. Something is happening now. There is an energy, a movement if you will, that is re-focusing consumers on buying local again. Much of the growth that is slowly lifting us out of this recession is coming from small businesses – locally owned.

My best guess for the reason behind the momentum is two trends I’ve observed. The first trend was made necessary by the recession. This is the trend towards simpler lives. When things get hairy in terms of financial and physical security, we hunker down and focus on what’s most important to us – our health and our happiness.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mother With a Mission (or More Adventures in Poultry Paradise)

There is a hen sitting on eggs high aloft a stack of hay bales in my barn. I do not want, nor do I need, any more chickens. This very same hen and I had a go-round last summer over this very same issue. Each night I would find her tucked inside one of our laying boxes or nestled amongst the hay, quietly sitting on the latest egg. And each night she would shriek with fury when I lifted her off her egg and put her in the hen house with the other less maternal hens.

She is a Buff Orpington. “Buffies,” as we call them, are a gentle, quiet breed with beautiful rich golden feathers and soft downy “pantaloons” that give them a plump, mother hen kind of look. This particular hen is determined. I saw it in her eyes the first night I lifted her off her eggs a few weeks ago. Chickens are not the smartest of God’s creatures, nor do they necessarily have the capacity for scheming, but I am beginning to believe they do dream. This hen dreams of being a mother. And mothers are a determined sort.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

GONE LOCAL Week Nine: Buying Local Bottom Line

When I announced that we were GOING LOCAL on January 1, my husband’s first comment was, “Can we afford to do that?”  I assured him we could, although I was not certain of that fact. Now, with two full months of buying local behind us, we are both pleased.

While we may have spent more on items like saline solution, birthday gifts, and beer/wine, we have saved in other areas. But the biggest reason our budget looks so bright and shiny, is that there has been less impulse buying and much less oh-that’s-such-a-good-deal-why-don’t-I-just-pick-up-six-while-I’m-here purchases most commonly made at stores like Walmart and Giant that I no longer frequent  Another area of huge savings has been the near complete halt to internet shopping. It’s much too easy to add things to a virtual cart and press “next,” without considering the consequences.