Work never stops, it appears, as I am thinking about new products and trends even while on vacation. This week finds me in the Driftless region of Wisconsin, where life moves at a different pace and the biggest business is organic farming. Thus, the countryside is dotted with small farms, dairy cows, crops, and Amish. The towns (if they are big enough) have a McDonald’s and a Walmart.

But it’s here that we see what “local” is all about. There’s a farm we stop by where you go into the greenhouse, pick the eggs you want out of the refrigerator, and leave your money on the table. Honor system, and eggs that you would never find in a grocery store (what are those little blue eggs, anyway?).

It’s also here that you see the idea of local expanding in some unique and clever ways. For example, in the photos you see here, you see coffee that is roasted locally, but also Fairtrade. The coffee’s not local, obviously, but it has a strong local connection, both in where it is roasted (right here in town, as a matter of fact), and in the names of the varieties.

That coffee is sold at the local co-op, which sells all manner of interesting things. I don’t think most analysts who look at our figures that say that 10% of consumers say they buy organic food and drink at co-ops visit co-ops that are as rural as this one is. But the consumers here in this town of about 4,000 clearly are among the 35% of consumers who say that buying sustainable products is, quite simply, “the right thing to do”.

Lesson learned here in the country? In many ways, people are more alike than we might think. And also that all of us city slickers could learn a thing or two from our more rural neighbors.

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