Thursday, April 2, 2009


I belong to Ravelry.  It is a social networking sight for knitting and crochet.  One topic came up about whether people were changing their yarn buying habits because of the economy. It turn sort heated when the conversation turned to Walmart Vs Local Yarn shops.  Or in other words, is it elitist to shop local vs the more proletarian Walmart.

This was my response.

The reason there is a movement towards localism can be summed up in  two words. Peak oil. Is it cheaper to buy your yarn from Michael's, strawberries from Argentina, spinach from California ( when you live in Maine)? Sure it is. Mass production, 18 wheeler trucks and cheap oil have made it possible for us to have any and all goods whenever we want, where ever we want, at its lowest prices.

Does anyone remember 4.50 gas last summer? The current economic mess has not affected my day to day purchasing power as much as the 55.00 it took to fill my second-hand  subabru legacy last summer.  Food that gets transported on ships and semi trucks was more expensive than the food I was able to buy at my local farmer's market and farmstand. Organic milk was 4.oo a gallon here.  Conventional milk was 4.30 a gallon. We may be experiencing a reprieve in prices now but does anyone really think that was just a temporary blip on the radar?

I buy local and organic not because it is an elitist thang'. I buy local and organic because I can trust the food my local farmer produces. Anyone eaten peanut butter with a hint of fear this year? Our food system is broken on so many levels: from high dependence on fossil fuels to grow and transport the food to lax regulation and oversight.  I don't think it is elitist to be concerned about the food I give my children.  I do think it is elitist that there be a system where a few who profit from this system foist food on us that is loaded with high fructose corn syrup, that is corrupted with diseases on a regular basis, and that is less than nutritional.

I want to support my local yarn store and local fiber producers because if the economy tanks any further, the big box craft store could go the way of Linen and Things and Circuit City.  I shop local because I want to know that local companies will be there long after the big box store decides to close and move to greener pastures ( that will be develped and laid with asphalt)

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Great answer!

We've been having a similar debate with ourselves for the past couple of years, and now, it's our habit to just buy local, if it's available, even if it is a little more costly.

I don't think of it as being elitest. I think of it as supporting my local economy. I doubt the farmer where I get milk or the vendors at the local farmer's market consider me bourgeois.

Fact is, I'd rather keep my money in Maine, if I can.