Once every few years, you get a chance to vote at the polls. However, every single day you get a chance to vote at the till. How you spend your money has political, economic, environmental and social consequences.
I have worked for political campaigns in both Provincial and Federal elections. I have lobbied politicians, written letters, signed petitions, and otherwise thrown myself at the system in an attempt to improve the world around me, leaving myself exhausted and frustrated. In the local food movement, I have found a means of taking tangible and effective action!
When I choose local food, I am investing in my community, strengthening the local economy, encouraging biodiversity and increasing food security. A dollar spent at the Farmers’ Market has the potential to be spent locally, again. Small organic farms are full of life and biodiversity, are less polluting than huge industrial operations, and are less prone to disease and catastrophic crop failure. My health is better for it, and I am less dependent on long supply chains for imported foods.
When I buy local, I am keeping the money circulating in my community instead of it being syphoned off as profits to the distant headquarters of a corporation; therefore I am promoting small-scale, bio-intensive agriculture, while simultaneously boycotting giant industrial mono-culture systems. My dollar is my vote each and every time I make a purchase. The more conscious my purchase, the more it benefits my community rather than corporations.
As more of us choose to buy local, the effect will be synergistic. Having said that, it is not always easy to shop local: farmers’ markets have limited hours and most close in October.
That is why I am excited to be part of the Island Roots Market Co-operative. The market is a co-operative business venture between farmers, consumers and workers. As an organization, we work together to improve our world through local food.
For a minimum $10 membership, I am investing in a physical building to house a year-round local food market. My membership is also my pledge to support the local farmers who will grow my food. The Island Roots Market Co-operative will be a resource for the local food movement, serving as a retail outlet and social hub.
We are currently in our membership drive and are seeking a building to house the Market, which we are looking to have located in Central Nanaimo between Townsite and Rutherford Roads. Our plan is to open in Spring 2013, and we hope this will be just the first of many such markets across Vancouver Island.
Suddenly my vote is amplified as we all vote together. It is not just my dollar being redistributed, but the many dollars of the group. The effect becomes tangible—the world begins to change.
I hope you will vote for change. I hope you can see that cooperation is not just a utopian ideal, but the path to a healthy, resilient community. Join the local food movement, join the Island Roots Market Co-operative: www.islandrootsmarket.ca.
I encourage you to vote in the next election, and I also encourage you to vote with your next purchase.
Chris Semrick, B.Sc, RRT, CRE is a Registered Respiratory Therapist, Certified Respiratory Educator and a Local Food Activist.