Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The best reason to buy local

Comedian David Cross has an old bit about wishing there was a pizza place where for an extra $100, your order would be delivered in a limo by a guy in a tuxedo.

From an economic standpoint, that's not a bad idea as long as there are customers willing to pay for it. People go to expensive restaurants thinking the food is going to be much better, when they're really just paying for a nicer tablecloth and a certain atmosphere.

Which brings me to the only point I readily give localists: aesthetics. I've touched upon the idea before that if someone enjoys meeting the craftsman or farmer who creates the product, or gets some kind of kick knowing it was made in the area, and the product is still in their price range, than by all means they should buy it. Consumers should buy the products they think are the best deal.

Personally, I get more of a kick knowing I have a product made by someone who didn't need to speak the same language, or know anything about me, to help me, and that we're both better off when we trade.

I don't buy from farmers' markets, but I can understand why people would be willing to pay more for the experience. Customers get to talk with the food producers and there's a friendly community atmosphere. Attending a farmers' market is a perfectly rational thing to do, even though there are no benefits to the economy or environment.

I've spent the last two years writing about why I reject the economic and environmental arguments of local-purchasing advocates, but that doesn't mean I have to categorically reject every aspect of their world view. Aesthetics have value, and while I don't share the aesthetic preferences of localists, I respect their right to pursue theirs.

1 comment:

  1. I prefer low prices. I like how many of the "buy local" people are also liberal and support higher taxes, ostensibly to help the disadvantaged. Of course if they didn't waste money on their locally grown organic turnips, they could do more themselves.

    As we know it's all about making sure other people are "doing their part" while neglecting what oneself does.