Submitted to the Daily Hampshire Gazette by Karen Ribeiro; March 29, 2015
As March 2015 comes to a close with the weather report calling for yet more snow, one can easily appreciate the value of weather patterns – and ecosystems – in harmony. So how can people in Western Massachusetts support natural harmony?
There may be countless ways; of them, two are particularly noteworthy. One is to buy locally produced food and goods. Another is to support fair carbon pricing. When we purchase locally produced food and goods we are reducing the diesel miles that food and goods have to travel to get to us, and by supporting fair carbon pricing we ultimately reduce the “externalized” costs that have made it possible to ship and truck and sell food and goods – many produced in the US, transported to a country halfway around the world for packaging, and transported back to the US – thousands of miles for artificially low prices.
March 30th also marks the one year anniversary of an amazing local store, aptly named All Things Local. This producer cooperative has, in this past year, generated nearly $400,000 of additional revenue for local food and beverage producers and local artisans producing goods from wood and wool and much more (books like my memoir Thirsty: Journaling to Survive, Thrive, and Feel Alive and my Inner Fortune Journal are on sale at All Things Local).
But there’s a hitch. Stores like All Things Local need community members to join the co-op, shop there and, if possible, get involved by lending a few hours of time here and there. People can help with anything from cleaning and organizing to writing copy and sending out e-newsletters. The more people who take that added step of shopping at a store that came to be through a beautiful concerted community effort, the more sustainable our community will be. While All Things Local may not stock some basics like toilet paper, which takes up a lot of space, it is impressive and inspiring to see the array of products available – not to mention the daily Local Cafe’ menu of delicious foods prepared by on-site cafe owner Amanda Wasserman.
So as we think about buying more food and goods locally, we can also think about supporting legislation that would also have a positive impact on local industry development. Fair carbon pricing is an important step toward equitable economic transactions and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
Currently there are two proposed bills for fair carbon pricing: Senator Barrett’s bill, SD285, and Senator Pacheco’s bill, SD1815. Each bill aims to combat climate change and reduce the carbon footprint of the commonwealth by assessing a fee at the first point of entry for all fossil fuels in the state (distributors and sellers but not resellers). To learn more, come to a Climate Action Now general meeting and participate in the carbon breakout group discussion or come to a regional house party (details available at www.climateactionnowma.org)
Karen Ribeiro is a Pelham resident who strives to have a greener thumb, and a regional sustainability consultant with www.SustainableValley.US. Karen is also a founding member of a network of local citizens called “Friends of All Things Local”. If you would like to join us to advocate for our favorite downtown cooperative market in Amherst, please contact Grow Food Amherst.