Eat local and be merry!

There’s something to say about the food industry and the same names popping up everywhere.

It’s a great business opportunity to be the proud owner of multiple chains of restraints…but how much is given make to the community or your neighborhood?  Sadly…not much. The Chain corporation itself might actually give back something, maybe even a lot, but the individual store is not giving back much at all.

The best way to invest in your local community, your local neighborhood, and often all your local charities and ways to help people – eat locally. But what does that mean?

Next to the grocery store in my city, there is a strip of stores, or what a lot of people call “strip malls”.  In there is a little thrift store (all the proceeds go to a local homeless shelter), a dress consignment store (10% of the profits goes to the domestic violence shelter), a small café, and a clock sales shop. The small café was opened by a young couple back in the 60’s. Flash forward to today….my wife and I have eaten there for about 7 years and he was always very nice. Suddenly, he announced he was selling it. His wife had died and now he was just moving on. Everyone said that there would be no way to replace this old standby and if they did…it just wouldn’t be the same. A small restaurant down the road was also closing because it was just too big. This was a sad thing to think that these two local restraints were closing because of lack of usage.

Down the road was 4 fast food places, 3 chain restraints, and you could see “for sale” signs on all the local eateries. Both places closed, but the 1st place opened up again within 2 weeks. When we walked in who was there but the lady who owned the other restraint….she had reopened it and made it as homey and great as the little café always had been.

It’s great to walk into a little eatery and people say hi..because they are literally greeting you, not because they are trained to do this the way the focus groups said they should. This si a place where “
the usual” is not necessarily an item on the menu, but the usual thing that they make you because you are part of the neighborhood and part of the family. This is a  place where you can find out how the local little league is doing, and whether Sam’s wife Suzy will be getting out fo the hospital soon.

This view of community and life are slowly going away for the familiarity of sameness. This is again linked to our inability to change, but not only that…our inability to see our world and our neighborhood as a community again. When you see your world as part of the whole, you want to take care of it, help it, and help each other. When I go out and speak to people, I always make sure I stop in at a local shop or two and definitely make sure I have breakfast or lunch at one of the places that the locals says is just great.

When they ask who I am and what I do, I’m suddenly surrounded by people who are talking about the things that need to be done in their city or town. I’ve done this is big cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Seattle…but I’ve also done this in little towns that most people would not even know the names and everyone always has ideas on how to change the world for the better. Suddenly, I’m motivating for positive change and they are looking for ways to improve their little community. Out of these talks have come ways to adopt out all the puppies in a shelter, a neighborhood recycling program, and the eatery started a drive for homeless shelters, little league teams cleaned up the roads around their fields, and everyone started being neighbors again. Happiness was the name of the day, and helping others was the way they all acted. When we can get all people together talking happily and smiling as they help others, that is peace, that is change, and that is the way we can change the world.

And it all starts by shopping and eating at local places!

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