eat and shop locally, more than i do now
Yesterday I showed you my new camera and a few pictures I’d taken so far. One of those pictures featured some lovely, fresh strawberries, and another had a bowl full of plump blueberries. Let’s talk about those berries for a second, k? I bought them at the local farmers market this past Saturday. I’ve been going weekly now, for a few weeks, picking up fresh fruits and veggies, and homemade bread. Walking the short distance to the market is a perfect way to start my weekend, but the best part is the bounty of fresh, local foods that I get to stock the fridge and cabinets with. One of the items on my Bucket List of Summer is to do more shopping and eating locally, and I think I am off to a great start. Let me explain a bit more.
Living in and around the Minneapolis area for the past 7 or so years has taught me one thing. You will NEVER run out of options when it comes to dining and shopping. Going to Target generally requires an extensive decision-making process. Should we go to Target A, B, C or D? Hhmm… they are all the same distance away, but Target’s B and C doesn’t have as many groceries. I also need to pick up something from Home Depot, which eliminates Target D, because only Target’s A and C have Home Depot nearby. You get the idea. I suppose since I grew up in a tiny town near the Canadian border, I am used to having limited options when it comes to dining and shopping. There are two grocery stores, a handful of restaurants, and a Pamida for all your necessities. While these limits can sometimes leave one feeling very isolated, they really aren’t all that bad. There is something reassuring about shopping at a locally-owned hardware or grocery store where the employees take the time to really help you, and get to know you in the process. You also waste less time running to and fro, shopping at the cheapest big-box stores and eating at the newest restaurants (that just so happen to be clear across the city). What I’m getting at here is that shopping locally is actually quite convenient. But it’s more than that.
A couple months ago, I joined a community organization in our town, and I’ve been getting to know allot of the business owners. Shopping locally means that I am putting my dollars in the pockets of my neighbors, and that feels really good. This year, instead of purchasing all my flowers from a big, discount garden center, I drove a couple blocks down from the cottage to a small, family owned shop. It’s a third-generation business that was started in the 1970′s, and today employs more than 20 full time employees. They sell everything from pets to picture frames, and have a great selection of flowers, trees and shrubs. Buying my plants there has meant that I get really personal service, and the owner actually takes the time to load up my flowers, dirt and fertilizer in my car, not to mention gives me a discount on my total purchase. It’s those little things that really make shopping locally a treat. For the past month, I’ve been making a very concious effort to buy as much as I can from the farmer’s market, local grocer and hardware shop, along with odds and ends from the variety store. It’s making a difference in the amount of time I spend traveling, but more importantly, supporting the local economy is making me feel more connected within my community, something worth allot more than a few bucks I might save by going to a discount retailer.