Jan 172010

A concept called nationalism, when legislated by a government, can cause catastrophic effects powerful enough to trigger wars, but when executed by consumers can change the world.

In that light, it’s time we do things on our own. Our government is not helping. It is, in fact making things worse.

Speaking from personal experience, little thought goes into the origin of most of the products we buy. Take some time for research prior to your next major purchases.

If a particular product has versions made in the United States, Mexico or China, buy the product made at home. Apply this philosophy to your purchases in the grocery store as well, but on a more localized level.

For whatever reason, some people have strong loyalties to their home state. Texans and Alaskans typically stand out for their cultures of independence and self-reliance. New Yorkers passionately make it known they hail from the Big Apple, and Bostonians refer to themselves endearingly as “Massholes,” apparently proud of the fact residents of the 49 other states can barely stomach occupying the same air. Coloradans are no exception to state pride, so let’s use it.

Instead of buying corn from Nebraska, Iowa or Kansas, buy Olathe corn. Same with fruit. Colorado peaches taste just a little bit better to me than Californian, not because their growing conditions are any different, but because the profits stay in Colorado.

King Soopers sells products, such as fruit, eggs, dairy products and some vegetables, under the “Colorado Proud” label. There are likely dozens of other products in the same category. Why send your money out of state?

Try to stop purchasing imports from nations who have financed the latest economic stimuli.

Take a minute to research the nation of origin for the gas carried by local fill stations. Do your best to accept paying a few cents more per gallon for gas originating from South American oil instead of Middle Eastern.

If you can find a product locally — take New Belgium or even Budweiser in our unique setting for instance — buy the product manufactured closest to you. Let the hippies in Boulder support the Golden breweries. Support your local businesses instead.

This potential shift in American consumerism may have already started. In New England, local farmers recently branded Maine’s Own Organic Milk, or MOO Milk as a response to low purchase prices from their distributor and a hope consumers will continue to support a local product.

The change came about when their distributor declined to renew the contracts of 10 Maine organic dairy farms. The farmers, needing to change their business model to avoid failure, took a chance in hopes that consumers would support their decision. I sincerely hope they succeed.

Apply the philosophy anywhere you can. Hit Big City Burrito rather than a corporate chain. If the line is too long, hitting a Colorado-originated burrito company is a perfectly acceptable substitute. I do not object to large corporations in any way, but their profits can afford to take a hit while we direct our money to our fellow residents. Instead of buying your coffee from the trendy Seattle-originated store, hit one of the local places. This can also take place in the food court of the Lory Student Center.

No more “Made in Mexico” or “Made in Taiwan” if you can avoid it.

The American consumer for years has sought out the cheapest option. This contributed directly to the viral expansion of Wal-Mart and the annihilation of mom and pop stores. Take your money somewhere closer to home.

Purchase as close as you can to home, and then extend the search outward until you find the most local product.

If by chance you find yourself in the market for a new automobile purchase, Ford merits the loyalty of the American consumer. They took not one red cent of taxpayer money, and they deserve a reward for their refusal to do so.

Unlike politicians, the people really can bring change. Unlike the government, the people can stimulate the economy. Will we?

Seth J. Stern is a senior journalism and sociology major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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