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The Impact of Local Dollars for Local Food

Have you ever considered the difference between buying supermarket fruit and vegetables versus those sold at farmgate markets and local stores? It’s not just about price or freshness or convenience… it’s about the impact of your local dollar on your community.

Large Chain Supermarket Money leaves your Community

Think about it for a second… when you spend $5 on vegetables at a large chain supermarket only a fraction goes back to a local farmer or business because the large chains use market power and size to squeeze their supply chain. That’s how you get lower prices. So maybe 20-50 cents goes to a local farmer ONLY IF the $5 of produce was from a local farmer.

Another part of that $5 obviously goes to paying wages that are reinjected into the local community when employees purchase from other businesses… they buy a newspaper, milk, bread, get some keys cut and have their car detailed. But the proportion of that $5 being contributed to wages is very small.

The vast majority of that $5 goes to businesses far and away from your local community… to support corporate structure, hierarchy, managerial wages and God-forbid speculative investor returns.

And that’s the rub… a big part of what you buy into with a large chain supermarket is their ability to take money out of your community – screwing their supply chain because they can – and sending that money back to headquarters.

Local Farmgate Money supports your Community

It may be more expensive, but consider the broader social value of shopping at the Farmgate Markets or directly from farmers. That $5 goes directly to the farmer… and if they pay a fee for their stall the difference goes to your local council.

That local farmer spends that (nearly) entire $5 in the local community by sending his children to school, purchasing fuel, clothes, newspapers, milk and the basics of life. And, in turn, the dollars circulate through a system where the money paid for newspapers and milk gets spent by that local store owner at other local businesses.

The reality of a dollar is that it moves through and enriches a local community in far more ways than a single one-off $5 purchase. The local shops are better, the standard of living is better and the general health of the community is better. Someone can afford to pay to have a local mow their lawn and clean their windows… and that money circulates.

In my book that’s a no-brainer. Yes we purchase supermarket groceries but we try very hard to limit ourselves to certain criteria where possible. We purchase meat from the local butcher, vegetables mainly from the market or the local Foodstore… but yes we’re only human.

Think about the Impact of your Dollars beyond Price

A big part of what the Slow Food Movement is about is to think about food in the old sense of the word. Food has become all about pushing calories into our faces three (or more) times per day and our criteria is primarily cost. And fast food is killing us.

Food used to be about experience. Food used to be about cutting and cooking and creating and enjoying. Food used to be about sitting down with people in a social setting and breaking bread. Food used to be about nutrition and energy and healthy living. Now… well now it’s not even about being actual food.

When you catch yourself at a local market looking at a farmer with their carrots and beets don’t be sold that price is the sole criteria for where you purchase. A dollar spent locally comes back at you by improving your community. Buy local and eat local wherever you can.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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