Today we vote each and every day. But the vote that we cast is not in a ballot box. We vote with our dollar and we cast our vote for what kind of community we want to engage and live in. Most of the time we don’t think of this as voting. Convenience has become a bigger value than the story behind the good or service. Convenience is king. Instead of supporting your locally owned coffee shop, its likely easier to hit up the drive through. Instead of getting a CSA or visiting your local farmers market, it’s easier to hit up the local grocery store that has everything in one stop. I get it. Life is at a fast pace….but some things are really worth slowing down for.
Before children, my wife and I lived in the foothills of Denver. We didn’t have a garden or grow anything for ourselves. We didn’t notice how much we relied on big box grocers and really had no idea where our food was coming from. We attended farmers markets a few times a year, but really relied on the convince of the grocery store and open all hours options. We really missed something living there too. We couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but something was missing.
When we moved to small town Salida, CO, everything about our consumption changed. We were surrounded with small businesses and we engaged with the owners. There are more small businesses than large retailers here and it totally shapes our community. This is a lovely thing. Small businesses supported by a small town! We attended the farmers market every weekend, and got to know the farmers of our area for the first time. After a couple of years, we decided to start our own farm and now we sell our produce at that same farmers market. Now we know full circle what happens when you support local agriculture and local business.
Supporting local businesses makes for a stronger local economy. The dollars earned by locals are spent locally. This creates an amazing sense of community. All of the small businesses in our town is exactly what makes our community so special. We all support each other, and it’s noticed. The atmosphere that brings so many visitors to our town is a direct result of the small businesses that create it!
When it comes to agriculture, when you support local farmers and ranchers you get fresher produce! The food grown and raised locally is not transported long distances. This helps with the carbon footprint and environment. This also helps people get the nutrient dense food that they want….the freshest food possible. Local farmers are more likely to grow heirloom and specialty crops which will increase food diversity. Many of the best tasting foods don’t transport well, so the big box retails don’t carry it, and the large farms don’t grow it. Then there is food safety. With recalls all over the news, its more important than ever to know your farmer and how your food is being grown or raised.
When you support a local farmer, rancher, or small business owner, you investing in their family and therefore your local community. Youre helping that farmer put their kids through college. Youre helping that small business owner pay their mortgage or rent. You’re helping that farm expand to bring more to the local market. When you vote to spend money at the big box stores, your money leaves the local community. It goes into the bank for a large corporation and is not noticed. The big businesses look at the bottom line, not the community impact. When you choose to shop local, every sale is noticed. Every sale is a vote for a more vibrant and caring community.