Why You Should Buy Local

(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)
Representational Photo

By Aleeza Ahmed

Buying local, often an alternative decision resisted due to quality and genuineness, has been driven by shifting consumer priorities and evolving global trends. From carbon footprints and emissions to ethical practices and global concerns, buying local has never been as relevant as it is today.


International brands, with their extensive marketing campaigns and branding efforts, have stature and grandeur that draw consumers to opt for them. This plays into and influences consumer choice, emphasizing the need for us to evaluate our purchasing patterns critically and understand the value of going local.

A household example in Kashmir is the canned Del Monte apple juice. This neon-green concoction with only 21% reconstituted apple juice is widely consumed, while there are numerous local juice brands manufactured and packaged to high standards.

Despite being responsible for 78% of the country's annual apple output, it is unfortunate to observe the preference for the international brand, which sells locals an inferior product made from their own produce. A shift towards consumers endorsing local products would change these market dynamics and foster innovation and development of local alternatives. Imagine a Kashmiri apple energy drink, Kashmiri apple cider vinegar, and the many other possibilities that could emerge.

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Aside from apples, Kashmiri trout fish is another renowned local specialty known for its freshness and flavor. It is a safer and fresher alternative to imported frozen and tinned fish varieties. Despite its widespread use in restaurants, sea fish can be contaminated with mercury from oil spills, making it a less optimal option compared to fresh river trout fish.

Local enterprise Wular Fish empowers widowed women by providing them with opportunities to earn a livelihood through authentic fish preparation methods using local spices and traditional techniques. This offers consumers a healthier, fresher option and saves them the time of lengthy preparation, all while preserving their local cuisine.

Opting for local options offers individuals wholesome, less processed, and lower carbon emission alternatives. Historically, international brands have been favored for their perceived reliability and quality, but reports indicate that multinationals don't uphold their standards and take advantage of relaxed criteria in developing countries like India. Reuters' recent investigation into Nestlé's baby food found the product in the Indian market had added sugar compared to the product in the EU market, which did not.

The current international market product landscape, coupled with movements like“boycott, divest, sanction,” has led consumers to scrutinize business policies and practices, especially with multinationals working in regions with lax regulatory oversight.

Beyond the product itself, purchasing decisions are now significantly influenced by the environmental and social impacts of the company, due to widespread access to information and heightened awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR), underscoring the influence these large entities hold over consumer choices.

Local brands have gained traction in response to the scrutiny faced by international businesses. While international brands' values and exploitative practices come under investigation, local businesses often establish and define their brands based on those very fundamental values and practices.

For example, Eco Kash is a local Kashmiri sustainable clothing brand that responsibly sourced materials while preserving, promoting, and reviving indigenous handicrafts. The enterprise operates under fair trade principles, actively involving community members and artisans in product creation. This commitment ensures that consumers receive high-quality, authentic products while supporting endangered local crafts and heritage in a sustainable manner.

With growing consumer support, this will foster an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and preserving local products and heritage. This is crucial in regions like Kashmir which lack private sectors and job opportunities.

Buying local, beyond economic benefits, more importantly preserves autonomy, resources, and cultural identity. Recently, luxury ethnic wear designer Mahish Malhotra named his latest collection the“Kashmir collection”, which neither incorporates Kashmiri handicrafts nor involves local artisans and designers. This caused a reaction on social media;“There is no Kashmiri design or art inspiration even remotely,” expressed @womanwithamovingcamera, a netizen on Instagram.

Buying local preserves dying crafts and, most importantly, ensures that native products and resources receive their rightful recognition. In the larger picture, it counters the exploitation of local heritage for commercial gain, which international brands have the power to do. The absence of local brands and consumer support for local brands can result in significant outcomes, such as the 'mainstream erasure and replacement of culture,' which the netizen further added.

Choosing to buy local isn't just about supporting the economy-it's about ethical consumption, cultural preservation, and empowering local communities against a backdrop of worldwide market pressures, demands, and challenges.

  • Views expressed in the article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer


Kashmir Observer

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