Think of local like a bulls eye. You and your home is the center. You only go outside of each ring if necessary. There are varying sizes of the ring, but once you reach 100 miles away from home you are outside of local. Why 100 miles? Well the people of the 100 mile diet used that number and their argument sounds reasonable.
When buying locally the things I need, the first consideration is what is best for the environment (non-toxic, low footprint, little packaging) and second how close can I get to home? I'm not talking about close to home as in a store in your town. I am referring to one that is locally owned and independent. Businesses such as large retail stores, restaurants and hotel chains are typically not local.
Local ownership results in 68% of the money spent returning to the community compared with 43% spent at a non-locally owned store. For the Andersonville study- where I got those numbers- click here. But enough about that: there will be more information on why buying local is important in another post or you can check some information out now at Pioneer Valley Local First.
Just remember that while in many ways the definition of the term is based on personal decision there are some things that according to the dictionary, local is not.
Local is not widespread or general.
Local is unique and gives you a taste of an area's culture that you can't get everywhere.