SHARE YOUR LOVE WITH THE LOCALS
February 12, 2021
I am a BIG BIG fan of shopping locally. Particularly shopping and supporting your local shops, restaurants, cafes and vendors. This is the month to show your love. So while we are sharing and celebrating LOVE during February let's talk about loving the locals. I feel it is so important to support our local communities, particularly our local businesses. These businesses are the foundations for locally sustainable communities and neighborhoods. The support of local businesses allows us to have fresh meat, fish, produce and baked goods at our very own doorsteps. We also benefit from supporting local restaurants which give us entertainment and an evening out within walking distance from our front doors. Hopefully, those restaurants and vendors also source locally from farms and growers creating a circle of support and a sustainable community. I have to say most of the businesses I support do source locally and I'm very proud to be a supporter even if it's just a small part.
So let me share with you some of my favorite locals that I love and support. In my neighborhood, I'm lucky to have many self-owned businesses. Everything from coffee shops, to the butchers, bakers and maybe even a few candlestick makers. Not that I do not shop in the big box stores because often I do for shelf items and maybe a few items I'm unable to find at the locals. But I try to eat clean and I like knowing what is in the food I consume. It's that old saying when reading the food labels. If I can't pronounce it then it probably shouldn't be in the food. That said, I have to say one of the advantages of living in England is many of the additives and fillers placed in the food we have to be aware of in the US are actually illegal here in the UK and throughout Europe. The US is so massive and expansive shipping food from one coast to another, without preservatives, many fresh foods would not survive the journey and distribution process to local grocery stores. The logistics of feeding America may contribute to the need for hormones in meats and preservatives in fresh produce. But for many years now locally sourced meats and vegetables have become higher in demand and important to many Americans in their daily diets. This demand is a driving force creating many local growers and distributors of meat and vegetables throughout America.
But there are other advantages to eating and shopping locally that have more to do with the human side. I've talked about this before in another article about my local. It's that human interaction. We all love it when the places we frequent know our names. We love it when they know what we want before we even have to ask. I remember years ago when I lived in Virginia Highlands, a neighborhood in Atlanta. There was a little record store - do you remember those? Well, I shopped this little record store often. It was small and individually owned. Needless to say, shopping locally has been a love of mine for many many years. Well, the clerk and I would sometimes sit and chit chat and she learned my music taste which frankly is all over the place. On many occasions, she would make some suggestions on new music to purchase and her suggestions never disappointed. That's what is special about local community businesses. They get to know us as we get to know them.
When I lived in Chicago I frequented a local individually owned coffee shop. It was located next door to my apartment. I went there pretty much every morning for a black coffee, read the paper while listening to really good music. Since I usually went after the morning rush the coffee shop owner and I would chat about some of the music selection. This was another time I could sit and listen to music which I would have probably never heard before. Another local relationship built on mutual interest. Not only did I go for the calming environment and music, I also went because the coffee was delicious. Individually owned coffee shops I find can produce a delicious cup of java because they do not have to source and distribute for the masses. Just like everyone else I often grab a cup these days from the corporate coffee makers. But even though I enjoy the cup of coffee, it still doesn't meet the quality of the individual owned coffee shop. Speaking of coffee...on to my locals.
Local Hero is my local coffee cafe which also serves a delicious breakfast/brunch along with an offering of baked items and sandwiches. I discovered this cafe within days of first moving into my neighborhood. They have the best-poached eggs! They are perfection. I've had them scrambled as well, but nothing beats a perfectly poached egg. Unfortunately, during the lockdown, they are only selling coffee and tea drinks and some baked items and sandwiches in the case. How I miss going inside for a seat and having a poached egg with zucchini fritters. If you've read my story "When You Learn Freedom To Brunch Is Privilege" you know the one thing I missed when I had to quarantine was being able to walk to my local for a turmeric latte and poached egg. Trust me I have tried to poach an egg myself but it failed in comparison. But I love this local. It's the place I can order my turmeric latte and I don't even have to tell them anymore "with almond milk and no extra cinnamon on top." They just know! Plus during a recent conversation with the guy that makes my lattes, I found out he is in Episode One of Bridgerton. You never know. Your local barista could be the next Hugh Grant. He has the looks for sure!
My local butcher is the Parsons Nose. One of my workmates said to me how lucky I am to have a local butcher. I agree! I feel lucky. When I walk inside the butcher shop I get very excited looking at all the fresh cuts of meat. You can tell they take great pride in their work and the meat they offer. Local butchers do take pride in presenting meat that has been raised and farmed in a way to produce food for us to eat without concern of anything being added that doesn't need to be in our food. It's best to consume within three days or frozen because there are no added products to extend its shelf life. That's the thing about shopping locally. It also is a great way to know you are getting the healthiest foods available without additives and/or byproducts. Taking care of the locals is also taking care of you and the ones you love. If you would like to read more about how my love for the local butcher began you can read my story "The Butcher And I." Hopefully, it will inspire you to find and shop for your local butcher if you don't already. Spread the LOVE! And speaking of sharing the love of community my local butcher also shared my blog story with their patrons in their newsletter. Local supporting a local. Gotta love it!
A couple of years ago I watched a documentary about a family-owned local bakery in New York. Wish I could remember the name because I wouldn't mind watching it again. But this NYC bakery was an institution in a neighborhood in NYC. It wasn't located in the tourist area so it truly was one of those old NYC bakeries. The kind that bakes fresh bread every morning and you can get a hot bun at 6 AM. One of the bakers talked about the regulars that would come in each morning to have a cup of coffee with their baked goods while reading the paper. She discussed where each patron sat every day without fail. They didn't talk with each other but they would acknowledge each other. One week a few days went by and one of the regular patrons had not come in for his morning coffee and bun so they all asked about him and if he was ok. Turned out he wasn't ok and had taken ill. Well, the bakery, the group of regulars and a few people from the community went to see him and they all pitched in to help him until he was well enough to take his seat once again in the bakery to have his morning coffee and bun. It was a beautiful story about the bakery and the community.
So in the month of LOVE show some love for those that support our communities daily. These are the businesses that allow us to shop and source local fresh foods, high-quality meats, fruits and vegetables. The neighborhood restaurants that serve us delicious meals and an evening out which doesn't require a taxi, Uber or us having to drive ourselves. I love being able to walk out my door and having several options to walk to local shops for food, a meal or even a dress. Maybe my love comes from growing up during a time where the community was everything. You couldn't do anything or go anywhere without your parents finding out. A community where my mom could send me to the corner market where the owner knew not only your name but the name of your parents and every other person in the neighborhood. He was even informed of how much, or actually how little, candy you could purchase with your pocket money because your mother told him the limits. The community was the place everyone looked after each other. So go out in the community and spread the LOVE!!