Shopping local, the real homeland security

A few years back members of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce attended a presentation in Tonasket about the importance of shopping local. The presentation was hosted by the Tonasket Chamber, and although well attended by the hometown crowd, it could have had better representation from those of us up north.

A woman from “the coast,” Snohomish County I think, talked about how they had taken shopping local to new heights, planning whole events around the theme. They got more than just the traditional retail stores involved, drawing restaurants and local farmers into the mix. Their restaurants agreed to have offerings that featured all locally grown produce, meat and other foods. One thing that struck me was how they got people from the whole county to participate. I’ve always wanted to try the same thing on a north county basis, at least to start.

We have plenty of good restaurants between Oroville and Tonasket and there are lots of local produce growers – you just have to look at all the people who sell at the farmers markets. We also have local wineries and a brewery, cheese makers and honey producers, to name but a few. Not to mention some of the best apples, pears and cherries around. We also raise beef, lamb and pigs. Anyone getting hungry and thirsty, I know I am.

I guess what I’m saying is it’s time to start thinking out of the box – those “coasties” that came here to help us made it work. They set up a whole chain of people that helped to sustain others and in turn helped to sustain themselves. Without getting into a big climate change debate, it’s also more environmentally friendly to buy what you can locally and I’ll guarantee you nine out of ten times it tastes better.

So while we all know it’s better to support our local neighbors who sell groceries, dry goods, hardware, sundries, cars and trucks, lets try and push “shop local” beyond the brick and mortar stores in our communities and I don’t mean the internet. Let’s find a way to get everyone involved in the game as it’s better to rely on our friends and neighbors because when they succeed our communities succeed.

When you’ve lived most of your life in rural Eastern Washington it’s sometime easy to forget we haven’t cornered the market on farmers, there’s still lots of agriculture that goes on in the west side of our state. I still have a poster hanging on my office wall from that presentation in Tonasket that was distributed by the King County Farm Bureau. It features a photo of beautifully arranged and colorful produce waiting to be sold. At the top in big, bold letters it says “Homeland Security” and beneath the photo it says, “Buy Local. It Matters.”

It does, this Christmas let’s all try to buy as much as we can from our friends and neighbors who own our hometown stores and restaurants and resist the lure of the big box stores, the city shopping malls and online gift giving. The money you spend locally will help to keep everyone from those that own the store, restaurant or car dealership, and their workers, gainfully employed.