Tricounty News

Buying local makes sense

Today's economy is challenging the ability of rural communities to adapt and, in some cases, thrive.  Along with skyrocketing gas and oil prices, retail prices have also been rising. These price increases are linked to the higher shipping costs involved in getting products on the shelves. We are accustomed to paying less for items brought from great distances than what we would pay for goods produced or manufactured locally. This is no longer the case. Large retailers and online web distributors can no longer  absorb the transportation costs and are passing those on to the consumer. Residents of rural communities usually have the luxury of going out of town to buy products more cheaply than can be produced  locally. But with the higher cost of driving to a giant retailer and the increased price of goods to offset shipping costs, local retailers in small communities may be able to compete. Buying locally produced food is a great way to begin to reverse the practice of traveling many miles to get items we could grow locally. Prices may still increase to  reflect economic changes, but it will mean putting money in the pockets of people close to us rather than far away. This is a more sustainable approach for our small towns. Farmers' market season is upon us, and we should take advantage of that. We can start by thanking those who produce the products and spread our money to our neighbors rather than to far-flung producers.  For more information, go to www.cfra.org. Michael L. Holton Center for Rural Affairs