Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Power of You.. an Individual

This is a subject that came up during a recent radio interview I was honored to give.  It is the notion of "voting with our food dollars".  Perhaps you have heard that expression or one like it in the past... but during this interview the idea took on a new meaning for me. 

You, as a food consumer, have three choices:

1. grow your own food
2. buy factory produced "food" from the grocery store
3. find a local farm to buy from

While ultimately the best, #1 is simply nor practical for many people for a variety of reasons.  For those that can, I commend you highly! For those that cant.. read on....

You are standing in front of the egg case at the grocery store, presented with a myriad of options for eggs, some cheap, some not, some with pretty labels and bold claims, some not.  Which to choose?  simple.. NONE!  Any choice you make (with the possible but rare exception  of a local farm offering eggs through the local store) will support a food system of centralized production for profit, extensive shipping, and distributed consumption.  But how you might ask.. how does your $3.50 make any difference  in supporting that system? Your just one person, one purchase, one vote.. it doesn't really count.... 

Here is why you matter. As a small local farmer I can assure you that while the $3.50 sent off to a remote producer or not doesn't affect that corporation's bottom line noticeably... that single purchase DOES directly affect the bottom line of the small local farmer offering eggs in your community.  At the scale of the small farm, every single customer, and EVERY SINGLE PURCHASE either helps or hurts  the farm's bottom line.  YOU and each purchase you make are a significant impact on his business and his future.  I strongly doubt any small farmer would disagree with me.  It's not so much that you bought from a remote corporation.. but rather the significance of doing that is that you DIDN'T buy from your local farmer. He feels that lack of sale significantly. 

Sure I agree that there is power in numbers, in groups, getting a whole segment of people to change purchasing decisions.. But what i realized is that  EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL like yourself, and EVERY SINGLE PURCHASE is significant in and of itself as a positive or negative impact to your local farm.  It doesn't take a group, it doesn't take a "movement"... YOU have the power to grow or shrink a local farm, just in your own wallet. YOU as an individual, hold their fate in your hands. 

So I ask you, what will you do with this revelation that you DO have power, not just the power of a vote, but the power of action with direct and significant impact? Will you buy that dozen eggs with the pretty label from the egg case, or will you take a stand, find a local farm, and purchase that dozen eggs from them instead? 

Your choice DOES matter :) YOU have tremendous power.  Use it wisely!

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