This week is the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Networks’ buy local week. But does place still matter in this age of globalization?
For some, it seems to matter more. Recently, my husband and I visited a new local coffee house. Well, “house” might be an overstatement. It was more of a lab cum temple devoted to elevating coffee above its origins as the humble cup of joe. They roast the beans on the premises and spoke passionately about the various microclimates and artisanal flavors that are brought out by various climates, roasting techniques, water temperatures and brewing times. That might not come as a surprise to anyone who’s read about the Clover.
However, I was surprised that my new neighbors wouldn’t sell me a bag of beans, since the equipment I have at home isn’t good enough for their coffee. (No doubt, my husband will ensure that a burr grinder makes an appearance in our kitchen in the near future.) The java jocks were concerned that the ineffable highs and lows, the essence of place, the terrior, would be lost in translation.
Which brings me to the reason I’m blogging about this here: could place become a new cause célèbre?
The general awareness that place matters may have started with wine but foodies now consider it when selecting cheese, chocolate, tea, milk and countless other foods. The resurgence of interest in native plants, local culture and even capturing place-based memories all adds up to a new regionalism even as communities wrestle with the implications of globalization. Will it mean homogenization or a dynamic network of connections between vibrant, distinctive communities? In many ways, the choice is ours as consumers – and perhaps more importantly, as citizens.
How does place show up in your life? Are you buying local this week?
-Talya Bosch, Former Account Director