I buy local. Do you?
I feel very strongly that the best way to boost our local economy is to support the small businesses in our own area. Unlike politicians who mandate that we "invest" by paying taxes, buying local is a small and easy way to support your friends and neighbors. Here are some interesting statistics my mom just forwarded to me. If only half the working class spent $50 per month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate $42.6 billion in revenue. For every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the community- spent at a chain store, only $48 returns. If spent online, zero returns.
While it is virtually impossible to only shop at local and family-owned businesses, you can see clearly the impact you could have on your community.
Obviously, I feel quite impassioned by what our family consumes in the way of food. I buy my beef, pork, seasonal produce, eggs, and dairy from local family-owned businesses. The recent adoption of the USDA's "My Plate" campaign inspired by Mrs.Obama has come under fire for bowing to heavily lobbied industries. The meat and dairy industries have been accused of buying their way onto the "Plate". While these may be valid concerns [due to ridiculous government subsidies], I for one will not let our local dairy and meat businesses be vilified.
I know these business owners. I know how hard they work. I visit their farms every time I buy my products. These are not agribusinesses. These are hardworking, honest people who genuinely care about their customers and the quality of what they're selling.
This week I'll be highlighting three of the farms where I purchase some of our food. The first business I'll highlight is the Charles Ilyes Family Farm, Inc.
The original owners of the farm are Charles and Sarah Ilyes. Married 60 years ago, they decided to forego a honeymoon and instead buy the farm where the business is now operated. They were married on a Sunday and the following Tuesday was the first day they opened their market stand in 1951.
Mrs. Ilyes has since lost her husband, but her son and two son-in-laws still run the family business. They operate a market stand and also have a roadside stand on the site of their farm. Their produce includes sweet and sour cherries, strawberries, rhubarb, peaches, corn, squash, tomatoes, and melons. They specialize in green beans - selling them wholesale across the region. Mrs. Ilyes still makes pickled beets, mincemeat, and scrapple.
In addition to their fresh offerings, they smoke their own sausage, kielbasa, bacon, sweet and butcher bologna, jerky, and hams. They make the best cheese jalapeno hot dogs. They process deer meat into bologna, roasts, and jerky.
The pork and beef products are bought from local suppliers. The beef is bought from a supplier in the same county we live in. The pork is bought from a farm in Elizabethtown, PA (about 30 minutes away).
The Ilyes Farm offers farm tours during the summer on every Wednesday evening. I hope to take the tour - and if I do, I'll take lots and pictures and show you around!
I fully realize that shopping locally is a little more time-consuming than the one-stop shopping at Wal-Mart. If you get to know your local businesses and what they have to offer, you might just be willing to make a little extra time.
Charles Ilyes Family, Inc.
1181 Bucktail Ln
York PA 17408