When I think about the “eat local” movement I often connect this to the notion of eating food grown locally, which is the intended meaning of the term. But this weekend I thought about another meaning of the term that is equally valid given the goal of supporting our local economies and that is buying food–even imported food– from local vendors.
There will always be those foods that we simply can not grow or raise locally but that many of us will want to purchase. If we can reduce the pollution created by making a trip across town to our favorite cheese vendor or bakery I think that’s a good thing. Every little effort counts.
So this past long weekend I went strolling down our Main St. enjoying the usual mix of people and entertainment, and I was thrilled to see a new store open up that was not yet ANOTHER restaurant or knick-knack store for tourists. We now have our very own, brand new, deli and bakery on Main. While this is standard fare for most sizable town thoroughfares, our Main St. was an “intentional” Main St. established to bring people to the street not through necessity but as a way of bringing to life the principles of new urbanism and sparking the development of a vital community.
We already have multiple shopping choices (a.k.a. supermarkets) a five-minute drive away in every direction. But if our “intentional” Main St. is to be more than a tourist haunt or seasonal festival stop for the residents in our neighborhood, we really did need more buy local options.
Thanks to an existing Main St. retailer (Mariani’s Clothiers for Men) we now have one more choice to make our Main St. even more walkable. Mariani’s made a decision to increase their investment on Main St., and for good reason. They’ve been doing business here for almost 30 years will benefit from efforts to make the street even more vibrant.
I gather they figured rather than waiting for another vendor to offer some real options for residents they’d make the stretch themselves. While expanding from a men’s tailor shop to a deli and bakery may seem like a questionable move from a business standpoint, I know the family is very entrepreneurial and creative–not to mention Italian. You should see the delicious choices of meats, cheeses, home made pasta and pasta sauces in this store. Mouth watering!
So the next time you worry about the limitations associated with a commitment to “eating locally” grown produce and other foods, I propose you think again. We can help our local independent vendors to thrive right alongside our local/regional farmers. In doing so we can get choice and value while contributing to the vitality of our local economies. Having such a variety of choices will serve to enhance our efforts to create healthy living environments for all.