Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Thinking Globally, Eating Locally

The other day, I bought a loaf of artisan bread at a supermarket. It even happened to be a locally owned, single-location supermarket.

But then I looked at the label and saw it was made in California. I live in Massachusetts.

I’ve got plenty of stuff in my pantry that made a long trip–but for the most part, it’s stuff for which there is no local source. I can’t get chocolate of any sort, let alone the organic fair trade chocolate that I buy, that’s grown within even 1000 miles of my house. Ditto with olives, Indian pickles, etc. I can buy from local companies that import the stuff, but it will never be locally grown unless global warming happens a *lot* faster than I think it will.

The bread made me feel guilty, though. Within 10 miles of my house there are close to a dozen quality bakers, most of them locally owned and operated. I buy a lot of bread from them.

And part of my belief in people helping people is buying local, keeping money in my own local economy (or the local economy where I happen to be traveling)–as well as, where practical, reducing my environmental footprint. So I shop local a lot. The majority of my food dollars, at least in the summer time, are spent at farmer’s markets, our local Community Supported Agriculture farm store. I’ve even managed to find a local supplier for the recycled paper I feed my computer printer.

But in two ways, I’m not a purist. I do spend a fair amount of money in the local branches of nationally owned food stores, because selection, price, and convenience make that a sensible path for me, at least in the winter. (I’ve been shifting more and more to local markets, however–and when I happen to be in the town 25 miles form me with that local supermarket, I shop there.)

And I’m not yet willing to live the stark and barren life without the stuff that doesn’t grow around here. I want my daily cup of cocoa, my wife wants her black tea, we add those Oriental hot sauces to our cooking.

But bread? What was I thinking?


Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), a nationwide network working on keeping money in the local economy. Website is unintuitive–even s a member, I had to hunt for it:

Community Involved in Local Agriculture, a group here in Western mass focusing on buying local.

29,10o answers to the question, “Why Buy Local?”


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