March 11, 2011 – Local is New Overused Buzzword

I’ve noticed since the appearance of local food into consumer’s lingo, many other businesses are using the word as well, not all with the same values as local food presents.  To me, a large part of the lure of purchasing local food is its freshness, and to many others the primary motive is the idea that the money stays within the community, using the local multiplier effect and it lifts the entire local economy when money circulates locally rather than siphoned off to a  multinational corporation.

My Menards bill came in an envelope from this company with the interesting slogan “The World’s Local Bank.”  I would never consider that Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) is local.  In fact, from their worldwide establishments, they sucked 19 billion in profits out of local communities in 2010. (During a better banking year they removed almost 40 billion in2007 from “local” communities to their shareholder’s wallets.)

I fear this could be the latest term to lose all meaning because of co-option by large corporations, much like “natural” “sustainability” and “green” have been.  Indeed author Wendell Berry recently reminded us that it is not the words that offer us hope, but the relationship:

“Too much of the talk and politics of conservation consists of slogans, such as ‘Think globally, act locally’ or even single words such as ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ or ‘organic’ that act like slogans. Such language finally does harm. It becomes useful, in fact, to land-abusing corporations. What gives hope is actual conversation, actual discourse, in which people say to one another in good faith fully and exactly what they know, and acknowledge honestly, the limits of their knowledge.”

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #199″