The cheap, the rich and the snobby

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When we buy local food, we’re helping our community.

Sometimes, I wonder about us.

You know, us. Americans.

When did we ever get so cheap?

Food, clothes, whatever it is.  We want our purchases as inexpensive as possible.

Worst of all, we feel we deserve cheap prices.  We point a finger and scoff at people who pay for expensive chicken at the grocery store.  We wear the cheap deals we get like a badge of honor.

Really, who are the snobby ones? The rich or the cheap?

I know for a lot of us, every penny we have matters and we cut corners out of necessity.  That’s not lost on me, believe me.

But by going for the cheapest food on the shelf every time, we’re perpetuating a vicious cycle; a cycle that helps the big guys, a cycle that isn’t Biblical.  If we’re Christians (as I am) we should care how we spend our money and where that money is going.  Or maybe more appropriately, who that money is going to.

Check out the difference between how we live today and how the Israelites lived in the Old Testament. according to the book  “Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible” by Ellen F. Davis.

Old Testament: “Extended families and kinship groups were settled on modest hereditary (patrimonial) plots of land, engaging in subsistence agriculture and supported by networks of mutual assistance and trade.” (Davis, Chapter 6)

Today: “The chief value operative in our industrial food system is monetary, and it is measured by the profit margins of large corporations. The productionist ethic has prevailed thus far with the North American public because its short-term benefit is food that is cheap at the supermarket.” (Davis, Chapter 2)

I gather most of us identify with the “modest” part in the first quote.  We feel like we’re doing our best to make ends meet.

And if asked, we would probably all say that we’d love to help out people in a similar situation to us.  People we know in our town. That’s where that “supported by networks of mutual assistance and trade” part would come in.

We might say that, and we might feel that, but we don’t act like that. If we did, we’d care about purchasing food from local farmer’s markets. We’d seek out alternative places to buy meat that support treating and feeding livestock the way God designed them. We’d spend a little extra to help that local clothing shop. We might cut down on some of the extraneous things in our lives to be able to put a couple more dollars towards what matters.

Instead of helping our neighbor, we help out Wal-Mart.

I’m pretty sure those guys don’t need our help.

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