By Shain Saberon
Here’s some news you already know: the U.S. economy has collapsed. Meanwhile, political partisans on either side of the aisle endlessly bicker whether it’s Keynesian or Supply Side Economics that will end our nation’s financial woes. I say let them debate, and by all means support those representatives whose policies you believe will benefit you and our country most. However, voting for, calling, and writing an elected official is all most ordinary Americans can do to influence policy at a national level.
Because of this, I sometimes feel disenfranchised. But, there is better news! We, the common and ordinary citizenry, possess more power than our government. We command a strength that cannot be suppressed—a collective ability to repair this recession. What is this power? It is a shared system of wealth that only occurs when we buy local goods and services. In these desperate financial times I believe we must internalize Mahatma Gandhi’s wisdom. You and I must be the change we desire to see in our communities and world.
In order to restore stability to our country’s broken economy, we must fundamentally change our ways. As concerned citizens, you and I must think local, not global, and act so as to benefit our communities by consuming goods and services from our neighbors.
Carefully consider these six dueling points:
- For every dollar spent at a local, independent business as much as sixty-eight cents returns to the community.
- For every dollar spent at a commercial chain store as little as ten cents per dollar remains in the community.
- Joe Nield, a local cattle rancher who sold me one-half of a grass fed beef, drives a Dodge Pick-up and lives in a modest home.
- The CEO from one of our nation’s few corporate beef producers most likely flies in a private jet and has multiple homes that are anything but modest.
- Joe Neild’s beef has traveled around 200 miles from his farm to my fork. Lower transportation costs and less environmental pollutants all contribute to save us more money.
- The typical American meal travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to fork. In my situation, supermarket beef should be eight times more expensive than Joe’s. Government mandated agricultural subsidies falsely make American food “cheap.” When purchasing typical supermarket foods, we actually pay for them twice—once at the register and again with our tax dollars
- Joe eats my produce, sends his children to the school where I teach, and buys goods and services from my community’s businesses. In return, his purchases employ more local people who buy more goods in our community. This spurs a potentially unlimited local recycling of our hard earned money.
- The CEO running a corporation supplying industrialized beef reduces his work force—not his twenty million dollar annual salary—as demand decreases for his goods. Then, only after eliminating American jobs, he lobbies for laws that will import cheaper labor or unsafe foods from under regulated foreign markets. This will, for both obvious and unforeseen reasons, drain even more money from ordinary taxpayer pockets.
- Joe employs environmentally beneficial grazing practices that build soils, sequester carbon, and maintain ecosystems I enjoy viewing and fly-fishing. Here, money is earned through both tourism and sporting fees and saved by not draining tax dollars to repair damaged landscapes.
- The agribusiness CEO has profit as his principal motivation; necessarily, therefore, said CEO promotes industrialized practices that first-sterilize soils by over reliance on petrochemical inputs and heavy machinery, next-pump millions of tons pollutants into the air we breathe (one/fifth of our country’s petrochemical consumption is for agriculture), and last- crowd cattle on mega-feedlots concentrating their waste which contaminates our aquifers and destroys our nation’s ecosystems. The expenses required to fix these problems really add-up.
- Joe’s grass-fed beef has higher amounts of Omega Threes, lower bad cholesterol, less fat, a complete absence of bovine growth hormones, and no accumulated concentrations of feedlot antibiotics. Needless to say, the healthier we are as a nation the less we will need to spend on health care.
- Industrialized meats are lacking Omega Threes, higher in bad cholesterol and fat, and are repositories for growth hormones and overused antibiotics. Many of our modern health epidemics (cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity) have been linked to the excessive consumption of industrialized meats.
I hope my rant reminds each of us of our individual economic responsibilities. Let us fix that which has been broken by supporting each other. Through the cooperative power of our local purchases we will bestow upon our posterity not only improved economic well-being, but also physical and ecological health. Please join me and buy goods and services from a neighbor. Find and support your own Joe The Rancher!