We do live in an remote rural area. We aren’t far from the highway, but it is a lightly travelled section of the Trans Canada. We can get places when we need to, without travelling over hill and dale – much. It is still a trek to get to a metropolis, and while we have resources nearby, nothing is within walking distance. Even the mailbox is a mile away.
I don’t drive often. With the price of gas, maintenance to do on the truck, and the generally poor state of roads in winter, I don’t want to go out. A few years ago I didn’t mind taking a trip two hours downriver just to shop and have a meal in a good restaurant, and I didn’t think twice about the cost. My income was about three times what we have now. I wasn’t extravagant, but I was not questioning the wisdom of consumerism either. My tastes are naturally simple, yet they still needed discipline.
I can drive half an hour to another town that has a fairly big supermarket, a Canadian Tire (which is a big chain of stores selling auto parts, hardware and housewares) and a Walmart. The supermarket has a wide variety of products, including housewares. These are three stores pretty much selling the same kinds of products. There are also a number of smaller chain stores such as Hart’s, Giant Tiger (really, that’s its name) and Home Hardware that carry the same type of merchandise. That town itself has a population of about 6000, with about 30,000 living within 30 kilometres. Beyond 30 clicks, there are not that many more people.
Who is buying this stuff?
I can’t imagine that 30,000 people need these stores, this much variety, and an almost continuous opportunity, seven days a week, in which to shop.
The last food I bought was at a local store – within five miles, even though I have to cross the St. John River on a wooden deck one-lane bridge and traverse the mountain to get there. It was locally produced beef and sausage. I paid a little less than I would in the supermarket. I can buy milk and eggs and bread there. Local vegetables are sometimes in stock seasonally. There is also a gas station; the gas is a little pricier than it is farther out from the community, but it is also full service. With the supplies of flour, winter vegetables, grains and eggs I have in the house, along with a small amount of meat in the freezer, we shouldn’t have to shop for anything for at least a week. In fact, I’m trying to get to the end of the month, and then I will make our monthly trek to Fredericton to see family and will stock up at the bulk food store. God willing, we will be set for another month.
I think we have been brainwashed into thinking we have to buy regularly, that we have to have endless variety in our diet, that we need to be gadding. We are not taught in our culture to stay home, be frugal, and make do. We are, as a society, close to exhausting the last of our natural and financial resources. In our rush to be anywhere but at home, we have polluted our atmosphere and water, filled our bodies with toxins, and driven up the price of a non-renewable resource. In the end, we are burning our food for fuel in our vehicles.
“Who cares if the kids have anything to eat next winter, Martha, throw another bushel of corn in the gas tank and let’s go to Walmart!”
I am looking forward to having a garden and farm animals again. We could think of just the fun of it, of having good outdoor work to do, orof the juicy tomatoes we can grow, the sweet lettuce and the pretty rows of green behind the house. But now it is more than a hobby. Our income is below the poverty line. We don’t want to take more from the government or agencies. We want to contribute. Our health, our peace of mind and importantly, the good of the rest of the world depends on us, and people like us, making do with less than we used to have, and not just getting by, but succeeding at producing more than we consume.
Living locally means our backyard.