If *we*, the People, want "change we can believe in", *we* have to take control, and the best way to bring jobs back to our country is to start buying products that the people in our country produce.
Like food, for instance.
I was reading an article this morning about a couple of entrepreneurial Moms, who've decided to capitalize on the whole local foods movement. First, they've been operating a local foods co-op for a couple of years, but they looked more closely at the issue and at our State (Maine), and they realized that we have
- a lot of really great farms that are growing a lot of really great food;
- a really crappy distribution system.
So, they decided to do something about the second item, and they've started a company that will process the "Maine grown" vegetables into forms that American shoppers like to see, like those yummy, sweet and kid-friendly "baby carrots" (which are actually just whittled down big carrots, but don't tell the kids who might like to think that carrots really grow in that shape ;). Their company "Northern Girl" will also sell things like cut and peeled packages of root vegetables and will package other vegetables to be sold from the grocer's freezer (like frozen broccoli).
Maine's Aroostook County has long been a severely economically depressed agricultural area. The problem is that many of the farms are too small to compete on an international level, but, until now, they haven't had much of a domestic customer-base. Their typical customer is the commodity buyer who wants high volume, but is only willing to pay very low prices. Many farmers out west (especially those who grow corn) have found the same problem, and this sort of business practice has resulted in the loss of most of our family farms to suburban sprawl, as large land owners can no longer grow enough food to even pay the taxes on their land, and small land owners can't afford to pay the mortgage.
For Maine's farmers, at least, Northern Girl hopes to change all of that by concentrating on mid-sized farms and offering farmers a professional wage.
A friend of mine has just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's wonderful book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. She's new to the whole local foods movement, but is interested enough to contemplate giving it a whirl ... with one problem: she's been a vegetarian for twenty years, and both of her teenaged children were raised as vegetarians. Most of the locavores she knows, and indeed most of the authors who discuss their locavore lifestyles, are not vegetarians. She was, kind of, musing outloud if being a vegetarian locavore was possible in a climate like ours.
With a company like Northern Girl behind her, I think her chances of maintaining a year-round, local, vegetarian diet just got easier ;).