I posted some info recently on the impact that shopping locally has on the local economy.
Grow Montana, the excellent coalition of folks in the Missoula area who promote sustainable Montana-owned food production, processing, and distribution (and who work diligently to improve all Montanans’ access to Montana foods) has conducted some research on this idea. Their findings reflect the national data, and they are eye-opening to say the least.
According to Grow Montana’s study, Montanans spend more than $3 billion on food in a year, and only 15% of that total is spent on Montana-produced food (if my math is right, $450,000 is spent on food produced in Montana).
Doubling that—moving 30% of our budgets to in-state food—means an additional $450 million for Montana food producers.
To say it another way, doubling what we spend on supporting Montana food brings an exponential increase in revenue for our producers. This means we can have give immediate, exponential increase to the security of local food for the future.
These are big numbers, so Grow Montana brings it home. That is, if each household in Montana spent just $10 a week on Montana-grown food products, we would re-direct $186 million dollars each year to local farmers and ranchers.
This is worth repeating: 10 bucks from each house means $186 million to our local producers. That does not make the producers rich—not by any stretch. It does provide critical financial support, so that healthy food—and our last best places—will be available in the days and years ahead.
We know from other national studies that this sort of redirecting of revenue to local business benefits local communities in ways that giving your dollars to national chain stores does not (at most, national chains would produce a little less than half money for Montana that local businesses do).
This is not to suggest that you should shop in any particular place or that you should avoid any particular store or chain. Shop where you like. But, please, spend your dollars with eyes-wide-open, knowing that your actions affect many more people than just you and your family. Buying Montana food helps all of Montana.
We can make Montana the place we want it to be, where neighbors support neighbors and the economy supports all of us right here.
The best part is, a small change can make a big difference. See the entire study here.