Local versus Imported Food or Goods? Why choose local?

WISH LIST

Christmas is just around the bend and we’re preparing our list of Christmas gifts. But first, have we thought of our purchasing preferences and its impact on our farmers and local manufacturers?

For most people, the default choice is almost always imported. Given an array of choices at the grocery, would you choose Nips, Smarties or ChocNut over M & M candies or Cadbury Chocolates? Or for non-food items, would you choose a Rusty Lopez pair of shoes over a Hush Puppy shiny, genuine leather pair? Most of us would naturally gravitate towards imported goods. We have been conditioned to think imported is usually of better quality.

According to an article by Vern Grubinger, adapted for “Growing for Market” newsletter article of the University of Vermont, there are quite a few reasons why we must choose local over the imported, especially in food items. “Locally grown food tastes and looks better, as crops are picked at their peak and processed in nearby facilities where farmers can oversee quality; local food is better, cutting the time for food to go from the farm to our table, hence less likely for nutrients to be lost along the way; local farms often grow many different varieties of crops to provide a long harvest; local food is safe as local farmers take their responsibility to their customers seriously; they’re also cheaper, often just near production cost, especially those farmers who sell directly to customers, eliminating the middle man; local food builds community and well-managed farms benefit the environment and wildlife.”

For our local accessories business, such as the shoe and bag industry, the local products would often lose out to the imported ones. People would often choose an LV or Chanel handbag over a Sylvia Santos or other locally made handbag. It may be due to the perceived better quality of leather, design, durability or brand loyalty. In the case of shoes, people would naturally gravitate to a Nine West pair of shoes than a Marikina-made footwear. However, a closer examination would show that the quality and durability of both local and imported shoes are comparable. It’s just the brand that’s different. Yet how can we as consumers and customers help our own local manufacturers if we don’t buy their products? The shoe industry in Marikina is practically dying and we need to help revive it and thus help boost our economy, in our own way.

In the law of supply and demand, if the demand for local products get higher, then the supply for it will also rise to fill the need. We need to re-think our purchasing preferences and buy local to keep our local farmers and manufacturers in business. In doing so, we are helping our economy grow in our own way.