Black Friday is fast approaching and everyone is making plans. Big box stores are stocking up on your favorite high tech gadgets and all the hot, new toys. Flyers, advertisements and coupons have been sent out and employees have been given extra hours to handle the holiday rush. But, you know what ELSE is coming? This coming Saturday, November 24th, is Small Business Saturday. Small business owners don’t have flashy ads, tons of merchandise in the stockroom, or gigantic sales. They also don’t have huge crowds, insanely long lines, or rude employees! Those are all reasons enough to get me to shop at a small business this Saturday!
Over the years, I have discovered a number of small businesses in my area that I enjoy shopping at. My all time favorites to support with my dollar are the farmers and crafters who try so hard to eek out a living with products that they make or grow from scratch. Over the summer I enjoy hitting the farmer’s markets to buy homemade jams, breads, soaps, etc. Sometimes I find a small business that I continue to support even after the tents of the farmer’s markets close up for the season. For the last several years I have been buying my beef, pork and eggs from Stokes Family Farm which is about 30 minutes from my house here in metro Atlanta. Anthony Stokes runs one of the last working farms here in Gwinnett County. The area right outside of Atlanta is not particularly farm friendly and he has lost quite a bit of land to development over the past year but that farm still raises pigs for some of the best pork sausage I have tasted! And the biggest perk to supporting a local farmer is that I know exactly how the animals are treated, what they eat, and how they are cared for. There is something to be said for knowing where your food comes from!
Support your local farmer for Small Business Saturday
On Small Business Saturday I will be heading to Stokes Family Farm for a meat pickup and will be bringing the family with me as well. Why? Because it is extremely important to me that my kids understand where their food comes from. They get to visit with the chickens that laid the eggs they eat for breakfast and understand that the pork chops we eat come from real animals. Some people may think that is a harsh reality for a child but I am a firm believer in teaching children the importance of knowing where their meal came from!
Have you ever considered buying your food from a local farmer? Here are a few reasons you might want to consider purchasing your next meal from a local source:
1. The food you eat comes from close by and does not require lots of energy and gasoline to ship the food half-way around the world.
2. Small farmers usually use much fewer pesticides and fertilizers on their crops. Many small farms cannot afford to pay for organic certification but talk to your farmer…you would be surprised at how many of them use natural methods of farming!
3. The prices are often cheaper than grocery store prices. I buy grass fed beef from Stokes Family Farm at a much cheaper price than I would at the grocery store! As soon as they stick the ‘grass fed’ sticker on a package of grocery store beef the price skyrockets!
4. By shopping at a local farm, you are supporting real human beings and your local economy, not huge agribusinesses!
5. Shopping with a local farmer means that the produce you buy is actually in season. And it forces you to get creative with your cooking! If cauliflower and turnips are in your share this week, you better find some great new recipes instead of sticking to your favorite (but NON seasonal) vegetable dishes.
6. Most massive food poisoning incidents occur in large, industrialized situations, NOT small family farms.
7. The food you buy is fresher since it was probably just picked yesterday (or was just roaming the pastures last week).
8. Preserve genetic diversity: Most large agribusinesses use the same few genetic strains of plants and animals. May small farmers grow heirloom vegetables (the ‘old’ strains from decades ago) and often raise heritage strains of animals. The look and flavor of many of these older genetic strains vary greatly from the newer hybrids commonly used today.
9. Small farmers are usually MUCH better stewards of our natural resources than large conglomerates. They have a real vested interest in the purity of the water and the health of the soil on their farm! In general, small business owners are usually MUCH greener than large corporations!
10. By supporting your local farmer, you ensure that they will continue to thrive. Personally, the idea of humanity being totally reliant on huge corporations for our food production scares the daylights out of me! I hope that by supporting small farmers, we ensure that our local food supply remains healthy, even in the event of a natural disaster or large scale catastrophe.
If you have the opportunity to support a local farmer, I encourage you to do so! You can check out Local Harvest for a location near you. And remember, when you buy seasonal produce from a local farm you can create some wonderful homemade jams to give as gifts during the holidays! You could also be the person who supplies the ham for your Christmas feast….straight from your local pig farmer!
Disclaimer: I wrote this post while participating in a Small Business Saturday campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for American Express. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.