I am back from our family vacation in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. It was interesting to be cut loose from the womb of the Inland Northwest that has sustained us for the last six months. We took a mini vacation from our rules but enjoyed attending the local farmers' market, where they had southern specialties like okra. I was impressed at the level of awareness around local foods. I didn't expect that in South Carolina. One of the reasons for this may be organizations like Low Country Local First. Here is their mission statement:
Lowcountry Local First advocates the benefits of a local living economy by strengthening community support for independent locally owned businesses and farmers.
We are an alliance that educates the public on the importance of supporting the local economy, and encourages businesses and consumers to be environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. We are one of 52 chapters of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
We envision a sustainable global economy as a network of Local Living Economies, building long-term economic empowerment and prosperity in communities through local business ownership, economic justice, cultural diversity and a healthy natural environment. Independent businesses create wealth by engaging local people in the production, marketing, and consumption of goods, they pay taxes, and reinvest in our communities.
We educate the public to:
• Reduce material and energy costs
• Recycle and reuse waste
• Buy and sell locally.
• Support local agriculture
One of the things that impresses me is that the organization is sponsored by grocery stores like Piggly Wiggly and other local businesses. I think too often the sustainability/locavore movement has rejected local businesses in favor of a more independent operation, free from the influence of large wholesalers. But let's face it. The only way to innovate substantial change in a community's consumption, that is more than a small niche economy in church parking lots, is to reform and enlist the current supply lines.
For example, I noticed that Yoke's just rolled out a large organic foods section at the Argonne location, and it's full of items from New Zealand and other far off places. What if they incorporated into that a local foods section?
I get excited about the prospect of an Inland Northwest Local First organization. Anyone interested? Yoke's, are you listening? How about The Inlander? Or Mountain Gear? Or the Rocket Bakery? Or URM? Or Avista? Or Waste Management? Holler if you hear me.