Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Trading Locally

James at Independent Country has a good post on why it makes sense, from the perspective of self interest, to buy from local producers and sellers (http://independentcountry.blogspot.com/2005/08/self-interest-cooperation-and-common.html). I believe that my power as a consumer is far greater than my power as a citizen to bring about and maintain the kind of community I want to live in. I can't legislate or mandate my ideal community because (a) it can't be done and (b) I am morally opposed to coercion. But I can and should make mindful economic decisions that reflect my ideals and values.

If I want all the lovely farms in Dutchess County to stay in business instead of sprouting crops of McMansions, I should buy meat and other produce from the farmers whenever I can. If I want to be secure about my food supply and its quality, I should buy from folks nearby about whose practices I can be fairly knowledgeable. I have recently committed to buying all my meat from local producers, and I trade face to face with the farmers. I pay a little more, but the product is vastly better and less likely to be diseased, and I enjoy the existence value of the farm. The tomatoes and vegetables from the farmers market and acquaintances' gardens are far better than anything in the supermarket and worth any extra cost. If I want the picturesque vineyards and wineries to stay in business, I should buy as much of my wine requirements as I can from the locals. It is pretty good wine and not more expensive than wine of comparable quality.

I don't know of any hardware manufacturers in the area, but I do know that I would rather buy dry goods and hardware from my locally owned and operated hardware store than from any of the big box Homeowner Hells, especially the Home Despot. The local guy has a smaller selection and sometimes charges more on some items, but he has employees who can help me and who can get me checked out in the same day.

And I love towns with vibrant main streets. If I want to keep businesses (other than pawn shops, probation offices, soup kitchens, and thrift stores) alive in main street, I had better trade there.

It's a little more work to shop, but it becomes a social occasion and I feel engaged with the community. I also enjoy at least the illusion that I am making a difference and helping preserve what is good about Dutchess County. If enough of us do this, we will maintain a viable and livable community.


iceberg said...

Kudos, Vache. This article is an superb example of some activities that adherers of free markets can most happily support, without involvement or introduction of coercion.

Let not libertarian ideology be accused of not having ideals other than weed-smoking and bearing unlicensed firearms.

Vache Folle said...

I forgot to mention that I would support local weed and unlicensed arms dealers.