At Ellwood Thompson’s we believe in the power of our local community. The ability to support one another, listen to each other, and provide everyone with the best we have to offer is our priority. That’s why our mission is grounded in keeping our market locally focused. From sourcing products within a 100-mile radius of our store to partnering with locally owned businesses for our daily operational needs, buying local to us is more than a fleeting fad, it’s a way of life.
We believe to be truly local a business needs to be:
- Proximity between farm and table – small distance
- Local ownership of food system – processor, distribution, retailer
- Supports character/culture of a community – preserving everything about what is great about people/place
Economics of “doing local” makes more economic sense because of multiplier effect. When you go out of the local to buy the multiplier effect goes down. Give up the economic benefit each time you import a good. A Canadian study shows companies w/ 20 employees or less are more profitable.
To show the ultimate support for “localization” a business can “go local” if all it’s vendors/business relationships/suppliers try to be as 100% local as you can and in the process become closer and more a part of your neighborhood/community. When it’s more personal, it feels good.
Instead of “price and convenience” make purchases to include other values like “local relationships and customer service.”
Here’s a few reasons why we choose to support local:
Shipping & Transportation: When it comes to producing greenhouse gasses, shipping and transportation create some serious numbers. Aircraft transport has greater fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions per mile than any other mode of transport. Transportation by shipping produces emissions of 1 billion metric tons of CO2 and uses 11 billion gallons of fuel per year internationally. These are just a few statistics, but we could go on and on. The point is, buying locally sourced products and goods greatly reduces these numbers.
Reduced Packaging: Oftentimes, locally sourced products require less packaging. Apples coming from 50 miles away are less likely to get bruised, and the propensity for spoilage is less, than apples arriving from New Zealand since the trip is shorter. Because of these facts local goods require less preventative packaging, greatly reducing waste.
Locally grown food tastes better: Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.
Locally grown food has a higher nutrient content: By definition, locally farmed food is not going to come from large commercial food companies, so people who eat locally aren’t going to consume as much processed food, which typically contains lots of refined carbohydrates, sugar, fat and preservatives. Local food is often picked on the day that it’s delivered to you at the peak of it’s ripeness, thus retaining a higher nutrient content in the food and the soil.
By focusing your diet on products grown and raised within 100 miles of your home, you will likely end up eating more fruits and vegetables as well. Shopping for fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets is also pleasurable and may lead to more variety in your diet. Eating local often means you can meet the people who produce your food, and you can also ask questions about pesticide use and farming methods.
Local food is often GMO-free: Although biotechnology companies have been trying to commercialize genetically modified fruits and vegetables, they are currently licensing them only to large factory-style farms. Local farmers don’t have access to genetically modified seed, and most of them wouldn’t use it even if they could. A June 2001 survey by ABC News showed that 93% of Americans want labels on genetically modified food – most so that they can avoid it. If you are opposed to eating bioengineered food, you can rest assured that locally grown produce was bred as nature intended.
Local food supports local farm families and businesses: With fewer than 1 million Americans now claiming farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. And no wonder — commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food — which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.
Local food builds community: When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food. In many cases, it gives you access to a farm where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture. Relationships built on understanding and trust can thrive.
Local food preserves open space: As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows full of wildflowers, the picturesque red barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.
Local food keeps your taxes in check: Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. On average, for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend 34 cents on services.
Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife: A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. According to some estimates, farmers who practice conservation tillage could sequester 12-14% of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry. In addition, the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings — is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife.
Local food preserves the future: By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.
Produce: Local Grower Rating Scale
LOCAL – GOOD
This refers to family-owned farms located within 100 miles of our store that use no spray or low spray. Farms that use spray are recorded in our records, including a list of what sprays they use.
LOCAL – BETTER
This refers to family-owned farms located within 100 miles of our store that practice organic and/or sustainable farming methods and natural (non-chemical) based fertilizers and insect control.
LOCAL – BEST
This refers to family-owned farms located within 100 miles of our store that are USDA Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown.
This refers to family-owned farms outside of our 100 mile radius, but within 300 miles. This still includes much of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
When you see an organic integrity pin, know that it is only placed on items that are 100% USDA Certified Organic, no exceptions.
CERTIFIED NATURALLY GROWN
This pin represents a grassroots alternative to certified organic. It is a non-profit organization offering certification tailored for small-scale, direct-market farmers and beekeepers using natural methods.
Why support small, locally owned businesses?
- Buy Local — Support yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — strengthening the economic base of the community. These include case studies showing that locally-owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the community and our tax base.
- Support community groups: Non-profit organizations receive on average, 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.
- Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit. “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust
- Reduce environmental impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
- Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.
- Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.
- Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
- Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.
- Buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to insure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
- Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.