Monday, February 1, 2010

Social Responsibility - Shopping Locally When You Can't.

This post is one of a series I've been writing tagged as "Social Responsibility" The series focuses on eating and shopping locally, choosing healthier food sources, supporting your local economy and merchants, and learning to do all these things without hurting your budget. I hope you enjoy the posts.

Recently, I wrote a post about shopping locally and buying local products. I'm sure many of you were thinking, "Yeah, easy for you to say. Do you KNOW how much more money you have to spend to shop locally?" Or, perhaps you thought, "But what if I don't have access to locally produced food?"

Well, there are some really great foods in the regular supermarket that qualify as "local" foods in my book. They may not be local in the traditional sense, but they're companies with the same philosophy on food...that you shouldn't compromise quality to make an extra buck. They also contribute to the communities in which they operate and take good care of their employees.

First, a few national brands...

King Arthur Flour
I've personally been up to KAF headquarters and shopped in the company store. Now here's a company that puts its money where its mouth is. They sell nation-wide but still operate out of a timber frame building in Vermont and they're entirely employee-owned. Their flour may be upwards of an extra buck over the store or national brands, but the quality and love that goes into the product makes the extra money well worth it.

Bob's Red Mill
Here in Rhode Island, you can even find Bob's products in discount stores and they're not second quality. Bob's still operates as a small operation in Oregon and you can really taste the difference. Plus, their products tend to be pretty reasonably priced.

Annie's Homegrown
Annie's is perhaps most known for its line of organic boxed Mac & Cheese, but they also make cereal and organic alternatives to a lot of other kid-friendly foods. They still hold true to their core values and still operate out of the Napa Valley area.

Green Mountain Coffee
Even though they're the parent company of Keurig, a device they themselves admit to be not so Earth friendly (they're working on it!), Green Mountain takes planet stewardship seriously in nearly all of their operations. Not only do they produce organic and Free Trade blends, but they go so far as to do things like distribute their coffee bean hulls for use as garden mulch.

Cabot Cheese
Cabot Cheese was started as a farmer-owned co-op and still operates the same way. Even though they ship throughout the northeast, they have let other farms in those states join the co-op.

More Local
Of course, if you look around you, you'll find a lot of locally owned an operated companies that you never even realized were local. Here are just a few I've found in New England:

Marshmallow Fluff
Most people don't realize that Fluff (and the Fluffernutter Sandwich) were born and are still made in Massachusetts. In fact, the state legislature tried to make the Fluffernutter sandwich the "state sandwich."

Cain's Foods
Known for their Mayo and salad dressings, Cains is based in Ayer, Massachusetts.

Pastene, importers and distributors of great Italian food, is based in Canton, Massachusetts. Their products are top-quality and delicious.

Autocrat Coffee is based in Lincoln, RI and they still roast all of their beans right there at the main headquarters. In fact, if you drive-by on RI Rte 146 at just the right time of the day or evening, you can smell the roasting coffee.

Supreme Dairy Farms
Located in Warwick, RI, Supreme makes fantastic cheeses, including ricotta and mozzarella.

Rhody Fresh
Rhody Fresh is a collaborative of RI farms who banded-together to produce their own milk brand. When you buy Rhody Fresh, you're supporting local RI cows!

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