Small Business for a Big Future
I have a list of passions that motivate me day to day. Of course, bees are number one. Education too, family, the environment. But small business is right up there, as it is a cornerstone for so many important aspects of our society. You see, small business is more than meets the eye. Not only do small-scale, localised retailers and service providers stimulate the economy, they also alter the social and cultural landscape.
But let’s go back in time. Before World War II, cities and rural areas were intimately connected, with the urban food system largely dependent on the production of farmers in the countryside. There was as “Market Street” in every town where food, fruits and vegetables were sold from the back of trucks. There were public market spaces that people would travel to once a week, and little urban gardens too where produce was grown. However, a shift in industrialisation and geographic, political and economic forces after the war, altered the way we buy and consume: cities were suburbanised; a nationalisation (now internationalisation) of the food system occurred, with food being shipped in from other areas; supermarkets sprouted up everywhere; and big industrialised farms were connected by monster highways. Of course, this devastated small food producers who could no longer keep up with production and costs.
And while this fancy new method of food production and distribution may have decreased prices and amplified the amount of produce available, it had other detrimental outcomes. To make food cheaper it needed to be made quickly, often lowering its quality and nutritional value. Chemicals were introduced. And, in turn, this “quantity over quality” mindset affected the health of people in the Western world, where obesity became an epidemic. Socially and culturally, this method of food production also eliminated a really vital and human exchange between people—the simple growing and passing on of food for survival and sustenance.
Luckily, a slower approach to living, buying and eating is rising up. We understand that disconnecting from business, and not knowing where things come from, doesn’t make consuming better, it makes its hidden. It takes information out of our hands. It usually makes business unethical, too. So, don’t put your hard-earned dollars in the pockets of huge corporations—we are making a move back to small business because we need to! It’s vital. The planet can’t cope with the chemicals and the mass infrastructure anymore. And people are suffering too, physically, mentally and—I would argue—spiritually. Buying from a small-scale business person helps them, their families, the environment, and the world at large. When you make your next consumer choice, put money in the pocket of someone close by, someone small, someone who cares about the world we are living in, someone passionate about the job they do. When you buy local, you buy from the heart, bee lovers!