Local Eateries Add Flavour To Communities
The sharing of food has always been a part of the human story. From Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv comes evidence of ancient meals prepared at a 300,000-year-old hearth, the oldest ever found, where diners gathered to eat together. Retrieved from the ashes of Vesuvius: a circular loaf of bread with scoring marks, baked to be divided. “To break bread together”, a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter.
Food brings us together in ways that not much else can, so it’s only natural that the space originally dedicated to the preparation and storage of food has become known as the heart of the home; and, while we still use our kitchens for their original purpose, they’ve become so much more than somewhere to store and prep food.
Sometimes a kitchen is an office or a counselling room equipped with hot coffee, other times it’s a busy epicentre filled with hockey bags and gatorade, or homework and cookies. The kitchen is where people tend to gravitate to when seeking a heart-to-heart over tea, and it’s where we gather to celebrate birthdays and holidays. At the kitchen table we talk about our days with friends and family while enjoying a hot meal, and it’s where we break out the boardgames, candles, and snacks when the power is out. The kitchen is the heart of the home, because it’s somewhere that’s safe, warm, and welcoming; yet, there are always going to be times where no one feels like cooking, or the distance between friends and family is easier to overcome by meeting halfway.
It’s when we start looking for takeout menus or making plans to dine out with loved ones that we need to remind ourselves that shopping and supporting local doesn’t just apply to retail. Local restaurants, like gNosh Dining & Cocktails, Soulful Delish Healthy Café, and Wise Guys Pizza – all located right here (or opening soon) in West 5 – are an impactful gathering place for communities, where relationships form and memories are made. They preserve agriculture and recipes from generation to generation and are the source of regional food culture.
Not to mention, for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $68 recirculates and remains in our local economy. For that same $100, only $43 remains in our community when it’s spent at a national chain. That difference comes from the fact that locally owned businesses are more likely to source local products, workers, and services than a national chain; because, just like you, the owners of small and local businesses are a part of the community and are more invested in the health and future of their community than any national chain is.
Supporting local restaurants can also help shrink your carbon footprint! With local owners more inclined to source locally produced food from farmers, ranchers, fishing operations, and other local establishments, that means the food you’re eating hasn’t racked up ‘food miles’ on its journey to your dinner plate. These so called “food miles” are likely responsible for about 6% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, a study found after calculating that 3bn tonnes of CO2-equivalent was produced in transporting food for human consumption each year. In other words, eat local and feel good about helping save the planet!
Although, there’s more than just saving the planet to feel good about when you support local restaurants. In addition to the economic and planetary benefits, local restaurants are more involved in their communities and are far more likely to give back in any way they can!
- Many local restaurants have been known to help feed the hungry or donate their time and resources to local charities or hospitals in need.
- Unlike big chains, local restaurants can be much more inclusive in their hiring process – willing to give job opportunities and offering professional development to those who are newcomers to the food and beverage industry.
- As the owners and operators are locals themselves, they’re more willing to host – and even celebrate – local events or holidays.
Local restaurants, like the kitchen in your home, are the heart of the community. They bring people together to celebrate, to reunite, and to connect over a shared meal; and when you find a local restaurant you love, it can feel a bit like you’re gathering with friends and family in your own home – it’s warm and inviting, and the owners and staff are polite, friendly, and welcoming! It’s this connection to them and to our community that has 65% of consumers saying they feel better about buying from a local restaurant than from a chain, and it’s why communities like West 5 are always happy and eager to welcome and support local businesses and restaurants at The Sifton Centre, 1305 Riverbend and Hēlio.
So, this season, and every season to come, explore what your community has to offer. You never know, maybe you’ll find your new favourite spot for all the flavours of food and life.