One of the things I love about New Orleans is how easy it is to buy local (to differing extents). I volunteer and buy produce at a local farmer’s market and buying club, which buys produce, dairy products, and meat from producers within a radius of a few hundred miles. They keep track of all of their buys, which means I know when my peaches come from Alabama and when my rice comes from Louisiana. When I buy from them, I know my money is going towards supporting people I know and have worked with in the market.
This morning, I bought supplies to bake cookies from a locally owned supermarket. The chocolate chips are Hershey’s and the butter is from Virginia, but the people who own the market itself are from here.
After my shopping excursion, I bought an iced cafe mocha from the locally owned fair trade coffee shop next door to the market. They coffee isn’t local, but I like knowing that my money is going to support the girl with the candy red hair who works there. The coffee shop also hangs art from local artists on the walls, sells books by local authors, and has a number of community gatherings throughout the week.
I’m pretty poor, all things considered. But, it makes me happy knowing that, instead of giving money to huge corporations intent on supporting their bottom line at the expense of their customers and employees, I’m doing my part to support businesses who are, in turn, trying to support New Orleans and make it, and in some sense the world, a better place.
With the knowledge that Washington has (probably long ago) lost sight of helping and supporting normal, every day Americans, I’m glad that I can make some sort of positive impact on the world around me.
As our elected leaders squabble and show how out of touch they are with what we need, please join me in buying local and supporting local commerce. Support local libraries and educational institutions. Instead of looking to them to save us, consider doing your part to help out your neighbors and community members, because this is what it will take to get everyone through this bump in the road.