1 EAGLETON NOTES: Buy Locally

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Buy Locally


Last year I was travelling through the Highlands when I stopped in a little town that I hadn’t been in for many years. I had a little walk and came across a rather twee little gift shop with a notice in the window exhorting people to buy locally or lose the local facilities.

I had a good look at what was on offer wondering just how much of it was from the area or from Scotland or, indeed, even from the UK. The answer was virtually nothing obvious. It was almost all from low cost/income economies such as Bangladesh and China.

This got me thinking in the wider context. In Napier, New Zealand, I am used to fresh food in season. For the most part greengrocery comes from New Zealand and as locally as possible to the point of sale. Fortunately New Zealand has a climate such that many more fresh foods can be grown and for longer periods than in the UK. Of course many foods such as apples and potatoes can also be stored for eating all year round. I got used to eating things in season and still find it strange that in Stornoway I can buy anything at all all the year round: it is just sourced from wherever it is available and transported often half way around the world. The exception is water melons!

We want to be green. We want the people of Bangladesh and such countries to have better working conditions. We also want food (and everything else) to be available all the year round and not to pay a true market price for it (food is, I believe, often substantially subsidised by the EU i.e. by our taxes) or, in the case of clothes, a price which would allow companies from whom we buy things to insist on good working conditions for suppliers’ workers.

I’d love to support the ideals in the words at the top of this post. Will I ever have that opportunity? History would tend to suggest not.

14 comments:

  1. I wonder where the notice was printed, the paper it was printed on made and as for the ink..........................
    I would have popped in and enquired.

    It doesn't make any sense. I noticed that potatoes from Spain were cheaper than Scottish ones in Tesco last week.

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    1. Adrian here in the UK we live in the global economy to a greater extent than a great deal of the world when it comes to consumerism. If it wasn't for the Services Sector and Scottish oil (mischievous adjective there you notice) our balance of payments would be in dire trouble.

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  2. Leaders fly to climate conferences in private jets. Tesco fly green beans in from Kenya and where would we be without our winter strawberries? Tollund Man - who I blogged about this week - would turn over in his glass case if he knew what was going on. So many word games. So much hypocrisy.

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    1. Absolutely YP. I've not read many blogs yet this week. I'll get over to Tollund Man later ( the name seems familiar - prehistoric?).

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  3. Globalization has changed everything. Everybody is in it to make a buck.

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    1. Absolutely Red. Succinctly put!

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  4. My "buying local" is my local Aldi and the bakery round the corner (one of those who still really bake on the premises). At Aldi's, I could get strawberries right now, but I actually don't even feel like strawberries this time of the year. The apples on offer at "my" Aldi are from plantations near Lake Constance, about 2 hours by car from here. Does that count as local?
    Unless one makes really radical changes to their lifestyle, it is nearly impossible to be all green and local. For my personal calming of conscience, some small measures such as not wasting food (by not buying more than I need) and not owning a car and a dryer are "green" enough.

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    1. You sound pretty in' to me Meike. A lot greener than I am that's for sure.

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  5. I think it's really impossible to be a Perfect Consumer these days (and probably always was...). If you focus on one aspect you are likely to miss something else instead. If you try to consider Everything, all the time, the process of shopping is likely to consume your whole life! So I guess what many of us do is just pick on some things as important for us and stick to that. I do often choose some groceries ecological or fairtrade or locally grown etc, if available; but can't claim to be always consistent. Convenience and prices and other preferences do come into it as well. And for the same reasons, I distribute my purchases between smaller local shops and big supermarkets or online shopping.

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    1. Monica I agree there's no such practical reality as the perfect consumer and 'buy locally' is not always (often rarely) practical.

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  6. Our food import bill is horrendous here on the island.
    We are encouraged to buy local and we do as much as possible, but who can resist all the other foods and fruits that are made and grown overseas?

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    1. It's exactly the same here Virginia. In any case we can't produce enough food in this country to feed us all.

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  7. I think shopping local is made easy for us here. For me, anyway. I couldn't afford to buy most out of season imported food. Except bananas which seem cheap no matter what time of year and where they come from. But half they time they taste so unlike bananas it's easy to give them a miss. I have a really good garden this year and that makes it a lot easier.

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    1. Pauline I'd forgotten about bananas. I've only ever known imported bananas so I wouldn't even know what a 'proper' one tasted like. This summer I'm planning to grow a lot more of my own vegetables too.

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