Growing up we had several great locally owned grocery stores around me. We had a Walmart but it wasn’t a “Super Center” but we ended up getting a “Super Center” and slowly our locally owned grocery stores closed. Now we are left with Walmart and two locally owned grocery stores. People have gotten so used to getting everything at one store and having endless choices that when people hear that I don’t shop at Walmart they are shocked.
And I have to say, I do have to go out of town once a month to go to some locally owned natural food stores. But if I wasn’t trying to eat organically I could shop here. You have to rethink how you shop and be willing to not have two rows of cereals to choose from, but really do we need that many choices? I’ve learned we don’t. Now I go to a big chain grocery store and feel overwhelmed with all the choices.
After people ask how I do it, they ask why. There are many reasons.
- I get stressed at Walmart. People are rushing and often rude, this can be stressful.
- It takes forever! Need a few items? It will still take forever because the store is huge and the lines are always long.
- You will end up find more things you “need” because of great product placement.
- The parking lot is a mess and if you don’t want harm to come to your car you have to park a mile away.
- When you shop chains very little of the money stays in your community.
- You have no idea where the food came from, try to ask and someone will give you an “are you crazy” look. (I get these often!)
That last one is a BIG one for me. I try to only use animal products if I know where they came from and how they were treated. Labels like “free range” and “cage-free eggs” mean little to nothing. But when I know who produced the food I can ask questions. The other day I found a local farm that sells bison through the coop I’m a member of, it didn’t had info on the treatment of the animals and didn’t say if they were always grass-fed, it’s common for grass-fed meat to be corn fed for a few months. No looks for asking these questions, the producer was thrilled to answer my questions. I can’t tell you how many farms and ranches will invite you to come check out the farm if you ask questions. Farmers and ranchers take pride in their products and want to show them off, unlike factory farms which work very hard to keep us from seeing what goes on.
It’s not just Walmart, that just happens to be what we have in my town. While I do still go to Target at times for non-food items, these trips are rare and small. I also try to give more of my money to the locally owned natural food stores and just use the chain natural food stores for sales and items I can’t find in other stores. Over the years I have even become friends with many store owners and employes. This has been very nice, I have often walked into a store to have someone tell me there is a new product they know I will love, or even Facebook me to tell me they got something in that I may want. A chain isn’t going to do that!
The advantages to shopping local are endless. And overall I just feel happier going to small locally owned stores where everyone loves their jobs. When I picked up my coop order this week we had a bit of trouble finding somethings and the ladies volunteering apologized, I told them it was find and “still quicker than Walmart.” And it was much more enjoyable. We always enjoy chatting about all the yummy food and other food related issues, not everyone in this area is passionate about local food so we always have lots to talk about.
So this Earth Day, I urge you do to do some research on local businesses in your area, not just grocery stores. Even if you already use some, see if you are missing out on some. Shopping locally is good for the environment, economy, and even the soul.
What’s your favorite thing about shopping local? Share in the comments below or join the converation on Facebook.