Buying Local: Ideology not enough

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.

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11 Responses to Buying Local: Ideology not enough

  1. tomlucier says:

    I agree with a lot of this.
    But I think the critical detail is the step that you’re taking…to get involved in a local food circle.
    When the food tastes better, and people ask why, you will have answers that might change people’s habits.

    We need more business owners like you caring about more of the local pie than just their own slice.

  2. […] 31, 2009 · No Comments It was a breath of fresh air to read Rino’s recent post about local support, and how frustrating it can be when it’s being used as a buzzword instead of a genuine way of […]

  3. Tom is exactly right about the “local pie”. Pina and I are always saying that one of the goals of WindsorEats is to not just make our individual members slice of the pie bigger, but to make the entire pie larger to everyone prospers.

    Bravo to you Rino!!! Walking the walk!

  4. Rino says:

    i don’t think i deserve the accolades. i admittedly don’t use enough local sources and have a tough time balancing the emphasis on lowering costs and supporting local growers or suppliers. i probably support more local and independent businesses outside of the restaurant and in my family life. if everybody’s piece of the pie is bigger than the quality of life improves ten fold. the local economy thrives, the environment benefits (less travel of goods etc) and people interact on a more personal level. you can’t create those experiences in a board room. i think i just got a new idea to showcase a small and local business every week in my blog. there are so many places that could use more exposure. trying to do my part by creating awareness and making people think about how and where they spend their money.

  5. Justin says:

    Great post and really good point on those “out of a job yet” stickers, really timely. And, thanks for alerting me to the incredible deals at the Palace Cinemas. We had stopped going to movies altogether just because of the incredible cost, but seeing a movie in a theater that is closer, locally owned, and cheaper is a no-brainer.

  6. darren says:

    I’ve always tried to support the privately owned businesses downtown. It was my way of feeling like I’m buying local since I don’t know if the chains get their food locally or sent from some big franchise giant somewhere.

    I keep hoping the times will change and downtown will come to life again. It’s why I always loved going downtown and talking to the owners of the stores. Getting to know the people behind the businesses. It’s always meant a lot to me. It brings a personal connection to the places I’ve done business at.

    One place I keep thinking of and missing lately is Peter Ryan Antiques on Pelissier though. It was always nice to know they were there and I could find a gift at any moment. I’m glad Ron Balla didn’t move the Coffee Exchange away from downtown too. It was good to talk with his this week and see how he’s excited about the new location. I’ve been trying to visit every chance I get.

    I miss when the market was downtown though. I kept thinking they could make another wonderful market in that space near the art gallery. Even if it was just a covered lot where farmers could set up on the warmer months and sell their produce. Since the market moved it seems so small and I don’t know if it’s because of the rates the building is charging. So many people still live downtown and need to buy food somewhere.

  7. darren says:

    I posted an old photo from downtown in the 70s on my photo blog too if you want to look.

    http://photo404.com/

    Those were some happy days downtown. I still have hope.

  8. tomlucier says:

    The idea about highlighting a new local business every week (food specific or otherwise) is a WICKED idea. I may piggyback!

  9. darren says:

    Something I’ve noticed lately while at the Coffee Exchange. It’s always packed during the day when I’m there. Mostly older people, but a mix of young and old. Many people turn away even since there’s no seats left. But this shows me that there is a group downtown that is out supporting businesses. I would usually go to Milk after, but it’s been empty. I know it’s market is younger people, but there’s still a mix there too.

    I don’t go into Starbucks since it’s like a vacuum to me where you step into an odd space disconnected from downtown and places with character.

  10. susana says:

    you know rino, i’m just starting to plan my kitchen garden …. are there any specialty items you would want to request? heirloom tomatoes, golden beets … stuff you would have trouble finding around here? all chemical free ….

  11. Rino says:

    i will think about it and get back to you soon. i would love that. then we would have a specific excuse to come out and visit. i will be in touch.

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