The notion or idea of buying local is fast becoming one of the most popular catch phrases of today’s generation. We even hear it in the media with respect to Obama’s stimulus package in the United States. As a restaurant owner I often have a problem buying local ingredients. With time restraints and pressure to find the best prices buying local, when it comes to food especially for a restaurant, can be very challenging. Just yesterday I read a blog post on the my local food blog about a local wheat mill. My first reaction was to find the phone number and get some pricing. I have planned to visit the mill later this week. I hope we can create a working relationship. I am admittedly very ignorant of the local food suppliers that are available. I hope to be using the info from the blog to help me better achieve my goal of using as much local ingredients as possible. In the summer I have the market and/or option to take a trek out to the county and stock up on fresh vegetables. In the winter it isn’t so easy. The idea of buying local reaches far beyond the food that we eat. In Windsor it has meant buy domestically made cars. There is nothing more frustrating than driving behind a car that has a “out of a job yet” bumper sticker only to see them pulling into a Wal Mart, Costco, or Kelseys parking lot. They are so self serving and short sighted. The notion of supporting local must become a widespread full out practice. Believing in the idea is one thing but acting it out is far more important. There are many great examples of local small businesses that offer better services than the chains and come with much more rewarding experiences. I don’t want to make an all out bold statement like you should boycott chains. Some chains have quality as a priority and respect the products they sell and contribute to a better local environment while others just package a product in an appealing way and simply want an easy sale. Decisions should be made on an individual basis. Many of the larger restaurant chains simply disrespect the food and product so badly that it is appalling to spend any money there and support the plastic, bland atmosphere. We are so fortunate to have a multitude of small restaurants and bars that offer a wide variety of styles of food and atmospheres. We also have a multitude of other businesses that are unique and offer so much more than what you’ll find at the mall or out on Walker road. One of my favorite things to do with my oldest son jack is to go for a walk to Rogues Gallery downtown. We’ve been going there since he was roughly 2 or 3. He loves it. We go every 2-3 months. The guys there are great. Jack wasn’t even able to read but was fascinated by the posters, figures and atmosphere of the place. He has since developed a love for reading that has him reading at a grade 4 level. (he’s in grade 1) The place is great. I’ll grab a comic book, a couple of retro Stars Wars figures and it might come out to $10. Its great to go to a place where the people are so passionate about their products and services. The movie theatre downtown is another wonderful example of great value and right in our midst downtown. If I take my entire family to see a movie at the larger boxes out at the mall or on Walker road I would pay almost $60 for 2 adults, 2 children, and a popcorn combo of some sort. That same scenario downtown has cost me $26. INCREDIBLE! Less than half the price. Supporting local businesses needs to be a conscious decision on every level. We spend money on goods and services everyday. When you are getting ready to go out and buy something or have something done for you take a moment and ask yourself if there is anybody small and local that can do that for you instead. Hardware stores, dry cleaners, restaurants, cafes, bookstores, record stores, gift shops, haircuts, groceries, flower shops, shoe stores, etc. The best way to stimulate the economy and foster a great relationship with our local environment is to stop and think on how we can truly live and SPEND in Windsor. It is a continuous challenge but with more and more awareness through mediums like this we can all come to find more and more hidden gems in this city.