May 21, 2012

My Worldview - 2, Corn Fed

The virgin chapter of the worldview series burned rubber around the Rings of Influence.  It bored into how shoring up the innermost rings of nuclear family and social circle better equip us to serve the outer national and world rings.  




The Rings demonstrate my druthers when buying goods.  I like to go local.  

For example, my grocery preference plays out like this:

     1)  Grow it in zee garden
     2)  Farmers' Market (post coming your way, the f-market in this town is wild)
     3)  Local grocer
     4)  National chain grocer








When we eat out, the Rings say local diners dominate national chains in my book.  Although an Outback Steakhouse bloomin' onion is yummy yet devastatingly unhealthy to hork down once a year.





Purchasing threads for Pigtails, I prefer hitting a privately owned consignment shop and buying used vs. blowing wads on expensive national brand retailers.  I find clean skirts and shirts for my kid at 1/3 the $coin$ going this route.  If you have a bambino that grows like a weed and you've never tried a consignment shop, get on it. 

The last couple months, I noticed the crusty Serta "beautyrest" (more like back-punch "crappyrest") was center-sagging after 6,000 sleeps.  Back when I bought that mattress fresh out of college, I headed to the jumbo furniture store like everyone else and cut a check for the most popular national brand.  

I've matured a bit since then and the Rings have solidified...this time when it was time to wheel-and-deal on a new sleeper, I beelined to a factory-direct store that sells mattresses sewed together in Iowa.  Compared with the Serta it replaces, the local-built bed is higher quality, costs less, the dealer was knowledgeable and the store delivered next day.  Plus the factory can customize firmness and I was able to twist him down a little on price. 

Egyptian long-staple cotton is king, so I tapped the outer world ring when coating the new mattress with sheets. And this one's confusing: the pillow's from Czech Feather and Down, crafted in Cedar Rapids, IA.

I ran up to the kitchen just now and jotted down the local list.  Here's the damage of corn-fed junk:

     - A big friggin' table scratch-built from local 1800s barn boards
     - Rada knives cut in Waverly, IA
     - A brown-glass growler of root beer, tapped from Peace Tree Brewing
     - Big Daddy's BBQ sauce
     - Orlondo's salad dressing and Gino's spaghetti sauce, flasked in DSM
     - Tone's spices from Ankeny, IA
     - Spicy Italian sausage mixed at Graziano's
     - A&E milk, butter, sour cream, cheddar and cottage cheeses
     - Blue Bunny mint-choc' ice-cream
     - Whole grain wheat bread from a local baker
     - Almond butter whipped at the Farmers' Market
    
This summer, we'll pound locally harvested sweet corn, garden tomatoes and peppers, Farmer's Market treats and lean Angus slaughtered on my Uncle's farm.

Why go local?
I find that the food tastes better.
The service is friendlier.
The prices are palatable.
The pillows are softer.
There's better visibility into what goes into the products.
And I like supporting small businesses. 

-----
Do you go local?  Or do Wal*Mart and Target win?

-Beard  

34 comments:

  1. It is hard to go local where I live. There is a farmers market near our new home, and I am excited about going there. All the ma and pop places are being ran out by the big stores. It is sad. I plan to do some investigating one we are finally moved!

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    1. Since it's not easy going local in your area, would you take some Graziano's Italian Seasoning if I shipped it to you? Let me know!

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  2. Ditch the Egyptian cotton and go for Pima instead. The fiber length is just as long and the quality is just as high as Egyptian, yet is grown right here in the USA.

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    1. Pharoah's sheets are already on my bed, but I'll be looking to redo Pigtails' room soon and replace her kiddish Hello Kitty sheets. Will look for U.S. Pima cotton online, thanks for the tip!

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  3. I live in the small university town just north of you. Sadly, we don't have the big amazing farmer's market. Target wins most of my business until I can grow food.

    I did purchase a mattress from the same place as you though. After 4 years I'm still so happy with my choice. Plus it was much cheaper than the big name brand I was looking at. I have no clue how I'll replace my mattress if I ever move out of Iowa.

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    1. Go Cyclones! Come down on a Saturday morning to gobble a breakfast burrito and grab a clutch of flowers at the Farmers' Market. It'll be worth the drive.

      Lebeda, FTW.

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  4. Anonymous5/22/2012

    We try for local!

    Our backyard garden gives us tomatoes, onion, cabbage green and red, herbs of all kinds, spinach, 3 kinds of lettuce, peppers, potatoes, okra, zucchini and cucumbers!!!! Our Early warm but not hot spring in southern Illinois has made a beautiful garden this year. I freeze some of the produce and can most of it so I'm not buying canned foods during winter.

    We get sweet corn and green beans from my parents farm.

    We pasture and grain feed 3 steers a year and keep one half beef for our own freezer!!

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    1. Awesome, that's what I'm talking about. Wish I had an acre to raise sweet corn and chickens. Do you put up a rabbit or deer fence to protect your greens?

      Home butchered beef is delicious, 12 times tastier than store-boughten steaks.

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  5. Our neighborhood farmer's market opens next month and I'm sooo excited. We go every Sunday and the kids always get to pick their own "treat". One is a sucker for the cherries and the other can't wait for the apricots. Nothin' better than eatin' homegrown.

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    1. Your kids are making the right picks, cherries and apricots are probably a better choice than the enormous breakfast omlette I'll jam down the cake hole this Saturday at the Market. I'll post pics of our Farmers's Market soon, it's nuts.

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  6. I live in Texas, where the weather allows a year round garden, I garden , grow , freeze and starting to can...I'm seriously thinking chickens will be next. My meat (yes I'm a texas girl, I eat meat:) cones from a local butcher who gets his cows from down the road....so everything is really close. Food from the big box stores scare me...but sometimes its a need.

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    1. Let me know how the canning goes. I've never tried it, but would like to.

      I'm sure you'll agree the little bit of extra work it takes to grow or keep it local is balanced out by improved taste, quality and pureness of the food.

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  7. We have a CSA share through a farm about 5 miles from us, and we buy meat/eggs from a family member who farms about 20 miles away. I frequent the farmers markets and freeze/can every year, too. I enjoy a nice leisurely walk through Target, and inevitably I do end up purchasing some things from time to time. But overall, I support and shop locally.

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    1. I'll study up on CSAs, looks like there's at least one in the area. They're asking $28 for 10 lbs. a week for 14 weeks. Pigtails and I can't eat that much, but sounds like a good excuse to give canning a try.

      Thanks!

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    2. Melissa5/24/2012

      If a whole share at your local CSA seems like it would be too much for your household/appetites, maybe you could look into splitting a share with another family. Our family of four (granted, neither the 11 month old or the 3 year old are huge eaters...yet....) splits our farm share with another family. We alternate pickup weeks and the farm we support is a great place to visit with the kids!

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    3. That's a good idea, Melissa! The $28 a week is the price for a half share, so I'd probably look at splitting that in half again. I could handle $14 a week and 5 lbs of veggies.

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  8. I can't say I have the presence of mind always to keep "buy local" in my purchasing thoughts. It happens accidentally more out of my laziness to travel closer to home than go the distance for the good stuff. That being said, however, another hindrance is living in a metropolitan capital city, close to the coast (as opposed to a smaller out of town country-type place) our choices for 'homegrown' are limited. It's still a boutique option here so the prices are more, the range is less. There is no disputing that the local stuff is better quality and more flavoursome AND it really bothers me what the chains do to the producers in terms of screwing the prices down and bleeding them of a good living. Unfortunately, the chain operators know their stuff(or pay the best people to),rhey know their consumers, our weaknesses and I will admit; low cost and convenience are the two major players that get me into the chains just about every time! I wish I could be as proud as you of being an internal ring consumer and I vow to try to be more aware of this from this day forward - so my kids don't have to try as hard as me to "think about it" when they are making their own consumer choices. With 3 little kids, I love a good consignment store as well.

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    1. Yeah, we hit Target at least once a week. Where else you gonna get T.P. and underpants? I DO NOT recommend purchasing undies for the kiddos at consignment shops. ;-)

      Sassy Mama up there commented that she too has difficulty buying local, so I'll alos offer you a cache of local-mixed Graziano's Italian Seasoning if you'd like. Let me know.

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  9. Strangely enough, there aren't any farmers markets in our immediately vicinity here in the Creek (Jones Creek, Texas, that is). About 40 miles up the road in the little town where I grew up is Froberg Farms (http://www.frobergsfarm.com/) - I have shopped there when I've been in town visiting my mom. But 80 miles round trip is a rough drive for some green beans. Especially with gasoline costing what it does.

    I WANT to buy local. And I try to do so whenever I can. There are independently owned gift shops in our area that I will utilize when looking for a special gift. We also prefer the locally owned eateries over the chain restaurants. I own a business selling custom blinds and plantation shutters. You can bet your bottom dollar I'd rather the locals by from me than the big home improvement stores. I try to keep my prices reasonable (not difficult, as I provide in-home consultations rather than owning a storefront) and I'm intense about customer service. Most of my business is from referrals. That makes me very happy/proud. :) If you'd like to take a gander at what I do, feel free to check out my website: www.finishingtouchblinds.net I used a Yahoo template to create the website. It came out pretty well, I think. :)

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    1. I checked out your blind site, nice work! So if I order shades from you and I live in Iowa, you Texas, is that still considered keeping it local?

      Keep up the solid customer service and competitive prices, and you'll do well against the big-box stores.

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    2. LOL! You'd probably want to order from someone a little more local than me, but it is a nice thought! :)

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  10. Since I am employed by a local small business & am trying to get my own cottage business off the ground I can't even imagine shopping anything but local. I basically refuse to shop the wally world or other big box stores, I find them detestable. As pie in the sky as it sounds I believe in supporting other local businesses because without them most of out local small downtown's would fail to exist. Citizens complain loud and often that small towns are dying yet won't support the businesses in the storefronts on main street.

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    1. I support the small businesses around here as much as possible, but also hit up Wal*Mart or Target nearly weekly to cover the rest. It's hard to shop only local, sometimes not possible depending on what you are looking for and how much time you have.

      What is a cottage business? Not talking cottage cheese here.

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  11. Anonymous5/23/2012

    It's always been a mix for us, but we are trying to move more toward buying locally.

    We love consignment/resale shops and do lots of clothes trading with friends.
    Our beef comes from my father's cattle farm.
    We're started buying Chicken from a local wholesale place that works directly with chicken farmers.
    My husbands family raises a heafty garden and we all share the produce.
    Local Farmers Markets are picking up, so we'll be hitting some of those for produce and goods as well.

    I wish there was a way to get completely away from the box stores, but there are some things I just haven't been able to find in other places.

    Stephanie

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    1. Agree, it's nearly impossible to completely shun big-box stores, unless you're Amish.

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  12. Lauren O.5/23/2012

    While I can't say that I do any great job about shopping locally for food, when it comes to clothing, I might be the proudest thrift-store shopper you could ever meet...other than my mom, maybe (so you know where I got it). We love telling each other stories about the difficulties we each have with accepting compliments from coworkers and strangers on our inevitably fantastic, thrifted outfits. Does anyone else find it hard to just say "thank you" instead of blurting out the extensive details of the amazing deal you got on something?

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    1. Mom was that crazy coupon lady growing up. I sensed fear and a lip quiver from the cashier as they eyed her gargantuan purse laden with dozens of scissor-cut coupons. Beanie weenies, milk, tampons, you name it, she had a 30-cents-off coup' for it. Her thrifty clippings would trim $25 or 30 bucks on a large grocery bill, the checker got carpal tunnel keying them in.

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  13. Anonymous5/23/2012

    Lauren, I can completely relate. I too "overshare" when it comes to my budget finds. I've had to train myself not to tell them the full story about how great of a deal I stumbled upon. Ha - laughing!

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    1. Lauren O.5/24/2012

      It's so hard not to share, isn't it?! Seriously, it's just amazing what people get rid of (and it doesn't hurt to live near a fairly rich neighborhood like my mom does so you can benefit from all of the fancy folks who buy great clothes and never wear them before carting them off to be donated). I'm fighting the urge to list off some of my best finds right now :)

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    2. Uh oh, the couponers are forming into packs and comment-bombing.

      Delete
  14. Lauren you hit it spot on! I absoluetly LOVE when I get a compliment on my garage sale blouse or my hand-me-down black flats. It just makes me giddy to know that I can still be fashionable and stylish at a fraction of cost that others will shell out for name brand items.

    Another fun thing I like to shop locally is when the storage units will have garage sales. I have really picked up some great household finds there as well. It is such a thrill to find treasure and get such a great deal!

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    1. I hadn't thought about those hoarder-gone-wild storage unit sell-offs. What all do you find in there, how scary is it, and do you recommend a tetanus shot first?

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  15. Yay to all the Iowa support! I live in MN now, but I grew up in Iowa and lived there until a year ago. When we lived in Grinnell, I went to the farmer's market all the time, and they also had a small mom & pop grocery store that I tried to support when we could afford to. Now there are fewer options--everything is more expensive in MN. But I grow a garden and go to the farmer's market up here, as well as buying our beef from a friend. And we go to the local orchard to pick apples and I make applesauce and freeze or can it. We do what we can, but in winter there's not much option but a large chain. I'm learning to can, though, and that might give us some more options :)

    Love your blog!

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    1. Go Grinnell, that tiny town has one of the top private colleges in the nation!

      We pluck from the apple orchard in the fall, and I'd also like to try and hit a berry farm late summer this year. Haven't tried canning yet, I should look into that to help cope with the tomatoes that won't quit come August.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!