The following is an article first written for the magazine Heritage Homecoming edited by Larry Truitt.
Good food; now that is something I have a passion about! Yet, when asked to do an article on organic foods I thought for the purpose of Heritage Homecoming I should start with an even larger passion of mine which is good, local food! Interestingly, it is another example of how history repeats itself, but this time in a positive manner. Buying from ones neighborhood farmer is not a new concept, yet it is something that most Americans have gotten away from. Now the average miles traveled by just one of your food items on your dinner plate is 1200 miles. Here at This Old Farm, Inc we believe in serving a local market. We believe that we can cut that 1200 mile average down to 60 miles. Thankfully, there are many following these thoughts. Though we have been so removed from community, there is an ache and a need to reconnect with our communities and this reconnection includes reconnecting with those that are growing our foods. In a time of crises, whether it be an environmental crisis or an economic crises, we return to what is important and that includes making sure we have a secure food supply and one that is local. I believe this return to local buying is the number one thing that will help us through what is currently a hard economy. It is the one thing we as individuals can do to make a difference in the lives of many.
When we stop to think about what our dollars support, many would make different choices. The way to a stronger economy is not through stimulus packages but through supporting our neighbors in their business efforts. This is especially true in a time of massive lay offs and high unemployment. This is the time that your spending power means so much. When you make a local purchase you are voting for local businesses to stay in business. Now assuming those businesses and individuals will also support local businesses with the dollars you have spent there, you will see that your dollars can soon multiply in effect. They can be used many times in the same community to support many different local businesses. Using this concept, we can see that a $100 spent locally can have an economic effect of several hundred dollars. It doesn’t take long to see that together we could make a big difference in our local economy. I will use our business as an example. We produce organically raised meats and eggs on pasture. Every time someone places an order with us we are then able to place an order for our locally produced organic feed, another order for locally produced chicks, and yet another order for other supplies purchased locally from locally owned farm stores. The feed elevator we use then supports another local farmer who grows the organic grains. Your local dollar has then had the trickle down affect to touch many people’s lives within a 60 mile radius who live much the same way you and I live. On the other hand you could choose to go to a store and buy some good, whether they be organic or not, and later see that they have been shipped from half way around the world. Now I see nothing wrong with supporting people from other nations but I believe the economic impact is greatly undermined. It is then like the stimulus package where money has been placed in the hands of the big corporations in hopes that it will trickle down to help the small guys like you and me. All I see is large amounts of wealth in few hands. Your store purchase would result in your dollar being diluted through the excess energy needed to get the product half way around the world, the many middlemen found between you and the product, and the big pockets of big corporations. Certainly there is a place for all types of businesses. That being said, I believe it to be important to think about what and who we want to support with our hard earned dollars as every time you make a purchase you are placing a vote. This is not an easy thing to do. It does take years to learn to shop differently. It takes time to rebuild our small communities that have slowly degraded through the shift of the dollar away from local business, yet as we know history does repeat itself. It is time to see something positive repeated. It is time to see that we can once again support our friends and community members. We can think to ask whether the products we buy are made locally or whether the business is owned locally and see our own stimulus package created through the ground up. In fact, according to Victoria Wessler with Going-Local, if everyone in Indiana shifted $6.25 from their current weekly food budget to a locally sourced item than we could see as much as a 1.5 billion economic impact in Indiana in just one year. Now that is something to get involved in.
Written by Jessica Smith
This Old Farm, Inc co-owner