We have written extensively here and elsewhere about why we think building a local food community matters (see here and here). Buying local is a way of reconnecting communities, especially following our divisive elections. Many of our farmers feel as though America is moving towards the dystopian society depicted in the Hunger Games series: the impoverished rural “sectors” toil to produce raw materials that fuel the elite urban sectors. We think this needs to change; there is no shared understanding or community when we are disconnected from where our food comes from. We are working on ways to solve the local food challenge by fostering connections and learnings across our farmer base and our member base, as a mechanism to address this divide.
Beyond the greater societal benefit, even if you are a pure capitalist and care not for ‘societal benefit’ or anything of the sort – we still think you have a reason to purchase locally: pure dollars and cents in your pocket. Every dollar spent has a multiplier; that is, when you spend $1 it has a direct benefit of additional spending, again and again. $1 spent at a local coffee shop turns into a few cents to purchase supplies from a local distributor, a few cents in wages to a working mother who buys groceries with her earnings, a few cents for an owner to invest in another coffee shop.
A 2013 Canadian study found that for every $100 spent at a local retailer, $52 stay within the local community. That same figure for a local restaurant? $79! If you spent that same $100 at a chain retailer or chain restaurant, just $14 and $30, respectively would stay in the community. That should matter to you as an individual, because dollars staying in a community support lower prices and higher wages for you. But it should matter to you as a participant in a democratic society too, because local spending combats the perception of a continued transfer of wealth from rural to urban America. More meaningfully, it reconnects us with our neighbors in support of a mutually beneficial goal: leaving behind a better community for our children than the one into which we were born.