A new favorite and handy website I'm using is tnbuylocal.com. They keep a running list of local businesses in different categories for the Nashville area.
Recently they responded to an article that said buying local made for bad policy. In their response they noted that buying locally aids in "sustaining vibrant, livable communities and healthy ecosystems in the process." It's not just about keeping money in your community; it's also about cutting back on the shipping process that adds to carbon emissions and the like that result from buying items that need to be shipped to Nashville over items that are already in Nashville. There's something about creation care in here; it's not just about economics.
That's one reason why I've decided over the last few months to be more mindful of my choices when shopping for groceries and necessities, whether I'm at home in Nashville or visiting any number of friends in any number of cites around the country. I am working at intentionally shopping with local businesses for goods I need.
I'm vegetarian and am really found of fresh vegetables. I'm not currently in the position to start my own backyard garden or to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) so the next best thing and the easiest change I've found is visit local farmer's markets for what I need.
The second move, which is requiring a little more patience and willpower, is to buy only produce that is seasonal. Is it the season for bell peppers and blueberries? Then OK, buy some. Here's a good website for finding local seasonal offerings with an easy to use interactive map: www.epicurious.com
I have also made the commitment to buy certain organic fruits and vegetables. Now, I might end up doing this at the local Trader Joe's, Kroger or Publix but I figure that's as good a start as any. For some items it costs a little more but at least I know with certified organic items, I'm getting healthier food. There's a list called "the dirty dozen," produce items you should buy organic to avoid major pesticides; they are:
The Dirty Dozen:
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
One of the most fun and delicious changes is to be a patron of local restaurants and coffee shops. I think you get more unique options and maybe even better quality food and drink when at local stores. And it really makes me happy that Nashville is growing in this area.
It takes a little more effort and maybe a little more money but honestly, it's worth it to know that I'm making a little headway to in being greener for the earth's sake.