The subject of Local is important to Sheep Farm. I've been asked many times; How local is local? Sheep Farm was constructed of local lumber, the sheep were born locally and the site of the sculpture park had been farmed continuously from colonial times until its conversion to the park in 1998. Does local then mean, anything from outside a 25 mile radius is not to be concidered local or credible?.
My view is really quite different. Local for me is all that I have a more or less direct connection to. I prefer to buy my food locally. I live in the rural northeast and this is entirely possible for more than half the year. I know the actual farmers and their practices. If the farm is organic there should be no worry of chemicals and contaminants in the fertilizers and livestock feeds. In the remaining monthes I rely on the collective research and wisdom of food co-ops and healthfood stores. Fortunately, I live near a bio-dynamic farm with a year-round farmstore (search: hawthorne valley association). In the end, I go a bit on faith and intuition. I think being skeptical is healthy, but retreating, walling-off and gating is not. Many of the problems occuring in foods and other products that are blamed on outsourcing and the global economy may have roots in corporate profit mandates.
China is in the news every day, being charged with producing contaminated foods and other dangerous products. The accumulated effect of these stories creates the impression Chinese companies are inept and unscrupulous. This may be true in some cases, but it should be asked, too; how much control do U.S. and other foreign corporations have over the specifications and materials used by their Chinese contractors. I've read that some of the suspect materials used by the contractors didn't come from China and the labelling was confusing and misleading.
In the 1960's, when Japan made its big move into foreign consumer markets, they went head-to-head with manufacturers from those market countries. Honda, Toyota, Kawasaki, Sony and Nikon, all produced high quality products. China has currently done the same in construction equipment.
Maybe local means having an unmediated connection with the source. One where the pride of the product is fundamental to the relationship of the producer and consumer. The closer your connection to the source, the better your chances of developing that relationship, but I feel real communities have no physical borders.
How do you view local?