Monday, February 1, 2010


On the one hand, I believe in localism. I think it would be great if we all sourced as much of our consumption as locally as possible. Local food, locally owned businesses, local crafts, local economy. Reduces the carbon footprint, means I end up with great products made by local folks whose faces I may even be familiar with, and helps keep prosperity churning along in my own community.

On the other hand, I love the international market. There are several around, but I tend to go to the big one, with an aisle for Mexican, an aisle for Japanese, an aisle for Thai, and well, there are a lot of aisles. They have some of the best prices for produce anywhere in town, are never crowded, and I get to make eye contact or have short meaningless conversations with an incredibly diverse population of people. I recently experimented with making my own ginger brew, and absolutely delighted in the conversation I had with a Chinese-looking man in his fifties who was in line behind me. He commented on the vast amount of ginger I was buying, I told him about my brewing project, he laughed at me a little and said "we usually just make it into tea."

I get to have food adventures when I go to the international market. Today my partner and I bought experimental drinks. We got a cane juice drink and an herbal jelly drink. We hated one and thought the other was okay enough to drink, but we had an international adventure for less than $3! We also bought young coconuts (yum!) and sweet potato noodle ramen, among other things. A young woman who was also shopping for ramen on the Noodle Aisle (yes, they have that), heard us talking about trying the sweet potato noodle ramen and asked us about it, so we pointed out where it was.

I find these values of the local and the global to be competing, and yet obviously I must not believe that they are mutually exclusive. I did only go shopping at the international market because I could combine it with several other errands in that part of town, thus saving gas. I wore found and thrift-store sourced clothing, I drove my small, mostly fuel efficient vehicle, and I regretted that my woven shopping basket was still full of Christmas presents and so had not replaced the plastic bags I used to carry my groceries to and from the vehicle.

Perhaps my real beliefs are less about local and more about corporate. I would much rather shop at a local import store (a specific mom and pop boutique comes to mind) than buy a bunch of cheap plastic made-in-China stuff from a(n) (inter)national chain. The owners of the boutique I love go on buying trips, meet the crafts people in the various Latin American countries they visit, pay responsible compensation to those crafts people, and then bring them here to sell fabulous things to me. I am so happy to support them and the craftspeople they support who do such amazing work.

So, yes. I eat at family-owned not-American-food restaurants instead of chains, I wear second-hand or found clothing, I reduce the number of my trips out and conserve energy, I always try to find what I need second-hand at thrift stores etc. before I pay retail, and practice a lot of other "sustainable" strategies. And I love me some fresh taku choy and young coconuts.

1 comment:

Philosofisher said...
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