This week’s post will be the second part of a three part series where I discuss the philosophy that makes up the core of my business. If you missed part 1, you can find it below.

Part 1: Protecting and enhancing the environment and human health
Part 2: Building a local economy
Part 3: Creating a community of entrepreneurs

Let’s consider for a moment a random object that we come into contact with on a regular basis. How about a soda can, just the can itself. The production of something as simple as a soda can is immensely complex. The bauxite is mined in Africa or Guinea, shipped off to either Europe or the US to be smelted, refined, and produced into alumni, then to China to turn the raw alumina into aluminum sheets, where it is shipped again to the US to be manufactured into cans. It’s then combined with the thingy on top that opens the can, the labels, and the beverage, all of which have their own journey. The components of a single can of soda have circumnavigated the world several times before reaching our hands. Most things that we come into contact with everyday have a similar journey. It’s pretty mind blowing to think about.

World history, for better or (well, and) for worse, has always steered towards the strengthening of global economic connections. Wars have been fought, world leaders have been overthrown, and elections have been decided to establish, maintain, or to enhance these connections. National economies depend on them. Also mind blowing to think about.

Globalization has resulted in plenty of good. No doubt that it has lifted millions out of poverty. No doubt that it has led to the low cost of essential goods. Since there simply aren’t any local mines and refineries, without globalization, we wouldn’t have soda (ok, maybe not so bad), and, if we are to have automobiles at all, they would be as rare as private jets (though I have always wanted a horse and buggy). Point is, unless we are willing to go back three thousand years, globalization is here to stay.

But of course, it’s a double-edged sword.

First, the global economy is vulnerable to major world events. World War 1 for instance completely disrupted the global connections that were established in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the same level of connectivity was reached, after the fall of the Soviet Union. And most relevant to today: pandemics. Nothing is worse for the global economy than a pandemic: the bubonic plague, yellow fever, and now Covid-19 all resulted in major disruptions that took/will take years to recover from.

There are a host of other problems associated with globalization: environmental degradation (see part 1), homogeneity of products, job exportation, wage stagnation, wealth inequality, tax havens, multinational corporations exerting influence over sovereign nations, etc. None of these are inherent to globalization and can be rectified by better policy and policing. But there is one thing that is indeed inherent, and that’s what I want to focus on: the impact on our local community. For every dollar that’s spent at a huge multinational corporation, 70 cents is immediately taken out of the locale where that store is located: much of it goes to China; much of it goes to executives who live far away; and much of it is paid out in dividends to shareholders who can live anywhere. Only very little remains for the local employees who work at that store. If less money is kept within the locale, that means that the money that these local employees would otherwise have spent at other local businesses is accumulating in far off parts of the world. It also means that the taxes that that municipality would otherwise have collected are not being collected by any government anywhere, since many large corporations are very good at avoiding a tax bill. In the end, it costs more for a local municipality to have a big box store (road work, policing, etc.) than it does to have a mainline of small, independently owned shops. Ouch.

So, where am I going with all of this? As I mentioned before, globalization is necessary to meet the demands of a modern lifestyle. Even with all of these problems, we can do the best we can to improve upon them incrementally, but the system is here to stay unless we want to go back millennia. But, there is one sector where it can all change, one sector that is ripe for renewal, one sector that need not be dependent on global forces, and it just so happens to be the largest economic sector in the world: agriculture. Whereas there are no local mines and refineries around us, there is soil everywhere; whereas there is no local automobile manufacturer around us, there are many local farmers.

Every time we support a local farm (or a local store that supports local farmers ????) we help to accomplish a number of things: we keep money within our locale; we help inspire others to farm once they see the demand (we need more farmers); and we are more likely to be safe and secure if a war or pandemic disrupts the vulnerable global food economy. Yes, it costs more (I will be accepting EBT soon) since small, local farms don’t have the economies of scale to offset distribution expenses. But, as I mentioned in part 1, in the long term, Chinese garlic, North Carolina pork, Chilean farmed salmon, and Californian lettuce are much more expensive.

Supporting local farms and millers/bakers/cheesemakers who use locally grown products is one of the most impactful things that I could do to help build a local economy, a guiding principle for my business.

And finally, everything I wrote is debatable. If you know me well, you know how much I love a good debate!

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