Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Buy Local and Worldly!

I told a friend the other night that I was going to go to Walmart to buy some canned pumpkin. She looked aghast. “Why would you go to that evil place?

“Read my blog and I’ll tell you,” I said.

One of the mantras in Austin, and probably elsewhere is to buy local. Because I’m a relatively new to Austin, and relatively in love with the world (Earth), I have thought this a strange love.

It isn’t that I don’t want to support the wonderful local businesses. It is just that I don’t want to overlook the other guy who is on the other side of this fine planet.

I do enjoy the ambience of local eateries. In fact, three times a week I go to one for breakfast. But I’m also a fan of Costco (and in St. Louis, Sams).

A Chan priest in St Louis stopped at a roadside fruits to buy some peaches. Each merchant had similar peaches at different prices. The priest bought some from each. Later, his monks in the car asked him why he didn’t just buy the cheapest peaches. “They both have to make a living,” he said.

I’m soon to sign-up for a Medicare drug insurance program that has Walmart and Sams as their preferred pharmacies. I’m signing up for it because It is the cheapest price. I’d rather go to Walgreens or CVS, though they aren’t local either. Our local People’s Pharmacy would be far more expensive.

Some say, “Why would you buy all that stuff from China?” What I don’t think they see is that US dollars going to China eventually come back to the US and buy US products. So if you believe you are costing the US jobs, I think you have to look at that exchange more carefully.

Or you might complain about the poor conditions in the factories overseas. I think the other side of the coin is that these factories provide jobs that our neighbors the wages need to survive.

I come from Russian and Lebanese stock. if we go back 50 or 100 years, not many of us in Austin are native to Austin, let alone the United States,  What about the rest of the world? Don’t we want to support them too?

I end up buying the best products I can find at the lowest price. I make many purchases through Amazon. I like Central Market because the quality is good, the prices are reasonable (as compared to Whole Foods), and the employees are nice. And it is local, though that really makes little difference to me. They have food from all over the world, which gives me choices I wouldn’t have elsewhere.

Another argument for not going local: the more interdependent we are (as if that’s a choice we can make), the less likely some country will declare war on us. The sooner we become one world the better. Our neighbors aren’t just the people next door.

So Buy Local is fine, if Local means the Earth. And then, when we start trading with aliens, I hope local will include them.

At one point nationalism was a bad word. Buy Local is a form of nationalism, reduced, of course to a city rather than a country.

1 comment:

sue skinner said...

I agree with your attitude
My commitment right now is to buy from brick and mortar stores.
Local income and local tax dollars influence the health of my community.
I also will buy from a locally owned company if I can. It hits "home" in a personal way for me