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Last week I had to make a choice.  I needed some veggies and had the choice of a small local retailer, Willow Mercantile, or Meijer’s.  I had to go to Meijer’s anyway for other things Willow doesn’t have, and I did have several children along.  But Willow is locally owned, has friendlier staff, and tries to source as local as possible.  Some things are a bit more there and the selection isn’t as big.  Hmmm…..

I opted for the local shop.  It was one extra stop, but in the end it was worth it to me.  The greens I picked up were very fresh.  I got some goat cheese produced by the Halpins up in Kaleva.  I had a nice conversation with the gal at the checkout, who seemed to like her job and wasn’t put out that we were there (as opposed to recent experiences at “the other” places).   I may have paid a little more and it took me the time of an extra stop, but that’s what one fellow calls the “local premium.”  I know that any premium paid will stay in my community rather than being spread to a “corporate headquarters” in some other area of the state or country.  That’s a good thing.

I thought of this again when Janice Benson’s blog about her experience buying local food came up.  Sometimes local food is cheaper, sometimes not.  But there is cost and benefit beyond the dollar price tag on any item.  For me, having a familiar name and face receiving my hard earned money is a benefit.  The cost of knowing that the workers who grew the lettuce, carrots, or chicken were exploited by suit wearing office occupying “corporate farmers” does not appeal to me; the lesser dollar tag isn’t worth the price. 

Choices have consequences.  Can we afford a “local premium” that supports local families and keeps our dollars in our communities?

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