It’s easy to know what I don’t want in 2021 – almost everything from 2020. It’s not hard to bash 2020 on the nose and say, “Good riddance!” The year was terrible for most of us, especially for those who died or lost loved ones. Some of us were lucky to survive an encounter with COVID-19 but might still suffer after-effects for years.
But bad experiences bring useful lessons. This year confirmed and expanded my belief that local is better. Of course, I’ve felt that way about meat for a long time. (Regular readers may be rolling their eyes at this point.) But I’ve learned that other local products also deserve our support and help when the supply-chain becomes unstable again.
In the “before COVID” time, I would drive to a big-box store when I needed office supplies. Now I go online to order from Warren’s in Maine. If what I order is out-of-stock, Sally will call me to offer an alternative. The next day my order appears at my door.
I used to order boxes and shopping bags from a company in Pennsylvania. The parcels would arrive with a pricey “delivery charge.” Now I call Dave at Johnson’s in Belmont, and my order is delivered at no extra charge.
Local eateries deserve our patronage even if you don’t want to risk indoor dining. (I think that’s how I caught COVID.) So when I’m sick of my cooking, I order from Cafe Mustard Seed in Canterbury, which delivers hot, ready-to-eat, delicious meals, or I request take-out from Republic in Manchester.
All of these businesses are local, but why is that important?
Here are a few reasons to “just say yes” to local online shopping:
It’s reliable – no long-distance shipping involved.
With online access, it’s just a click away.
Home delivery or pick up locations make it convenient.
Your dollars stay in the community, helping your neighbor.
When ordering locally-raised food, there is one more reason: It’s delicious. Since our hens can’t keep up with the demand for local eggs, I stopped eating eggs to save them for customers. So when I was overcome with an overwhelming desire for a fried egg, I went to a supermarket and bought a dozen of allegedly “pasture-raised, organic, cage-free” eggs. Ugh. You may already know this, but these eggs had a metallic taste, nothing like those from our farm. Eggs, meat, vegetables, and produce taste better when they’re locally-raised.
Because of uncertainty in the supply chain, having local resources for everything, especially meat, is imperative. The good news is that local distribution can be quick – quicker than waiting for meat from away that relies on trucks and ships to deliver it from who knows where.
Doesn’t it make sense, even in good times, to help build a local infrastructure by supporting local farms and businesses so that we’re ready when the next crisis occurs?
My 2021 resolution is: When possible, buy from a local business. How about you? What’s on your resolution list?
(Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, milessmithfarm.com, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs, and other local products.)