Saturday, March 21, 2009

Local - Shades of Gray

Whenever I think of shopping "local," I am always confused by what that really means. On the extreme side, there are the farmers close by, if they have a roadside stand or visit my town's farmers' market. That's the ideal, of course, which is only available to me from July to October.

But beyond that, it becomes a really gray area to me. A locally owned restaurant generally buys all the food and paper products from far away, so how much stays local, really? Is it any more than, say, McDonald's, who pays a few cents more an hour to their staff? Or a trinket shop whose goods are all made in China?

And then, what about locally owned chains, like Top Food/Haggen's? They promote locally produced food. Is it such blasphemy to shop there? Yes, it's a chain, but doesn't the money stay within Western Washington (Bellingham)? After that, you've hit a slippery slope - Starbucks, Fred Meyer, Costco, even Amazon. Although most of what's in those stores doesn't come from my local area, they are at least locally owned.

But then, the franchise owner of the McDonald's would say that he owns his franchise....

Where does one draw the line?

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