In Your Corner: ’Tis the season to shop in the Creston Valley

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It’s that time of year again, when we take stock of the past year and celebrate the holidays with feasts and gifts.

Getting prepared means a lot of shopping. So to help to keep dollars local, I’ve asked my “friend” Cresto Gnome, Creston Valley’s very own travelling gnome, to hit the streets again and show people where they can get some of the best presents and food in the world.

Last year, Cresto left the second shelf at Cresteramics to travel throughout the valley, taking photos of himself as he made his local purchases. Whether it was Kootenay-brewed Kokanee beer or buying fresh produce at the Creston Valley Farmer’s Market, you could find photos of Cresto doing his 100-mile shopping on Twitter @CrestoGnome and using the hashtag, #CrestonBC.

This year, Cresto is at it again, and he’s brought along a special friend. As more people began to follow Cresto’s 2011 travels, one matchmaker figured he needed a companion. Soon, she introduced him to Crestoreena, and they hit it off. Now, when you follow @CrestoGnome on Twitter, you will find Crestoreena also doing her holiday shopping locally.

These two travelling gnomes know that buying local translates into a prosperous community. When we buy local, our neighbours’ businesses have more sales, create more jobs, pay more to the communal pot for community assets like the rec centre, and give more to great causes like the Creston Valley Gleaners Society and the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.

Buying local also has positive outcomes for the environment. Staying close to home means you reduce your green house gas emissions while also reducing your gas budget. Another key way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat locally.

The average ingredient in a meal travels over 2,500 kilometres before it hits the table — a 25 per cent increase from 1980. Our food system is a major contributor to climate change and we have an easy solution right here in the Creston Valley. Not only can you reduce your impact on climate change by shopping for gifts at local stores, but you can make a difference by cooking up a holiday feast from some of the best food grown in the world, right here in the Kootenays. Indeed, pick up some delicious Tabletree cherry juice, selected as the best juice in the world by the World Juice Awards.

Not only do Cresto and Crestoreena want you to join them as they buy local, they also want government to pitch-in. Recommendations from my 2011 report, Kootenay Lake Regional Food Systems, and from my community meetings on agriculture highlight two key initiatives government can take to improve markets for our local producers. These are Buy BC marketing and local procurement for provincial government institutions like schools and hospitals.

In the past year, BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix has called on the government to start both of these initiatives. The 1990s Buy BC program was a huge success. Today, Ontario and 32 other states and provinces are buying local for their schools and hospitals. We know we can do it here in B.C., so let’s get started.

This holiday season, give to your community by shopping local. Whether it’s for the turkey and mashed potatoes, tuques and mittens, or something sparkly, keeping dollars close to home makes the world a better place. Just ask Cresto and Crestoreena.

Michelle Mungall is the member of the legislative assembly for the Nelson-Creston provincial riding, and is the Opposition critic for advanced education, youth and labour market development.

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