Friday, October 28, 2011

Local Sabor (pt 1)

Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, Al's Italian Beef, Hot Doug's, Miko's Italian Ice, Gino's East, thousands of street vendors selling tamales year 'round, hundreds of affordable neighborhood taquerias, unaffiliated Maxwell St Polishes, Maggiano's, Metropolitan Coffee, Three Doghead Brewery, The Handlebar, Vienna Beef hot dogs, Rick Bayless and his specialty regional Mexican spots, Kasi's Delis, Intelligentsia Coffee, rib-backs, Margie's Candies, Boarhead Delis, El Borinquen, Honey1 Barbecue, Korean barbeque, world-reknown chefs and gastro-pubs.

Italian, Mexican, Polish, Louisiana South, Ethiopian, Argentine, Indian, Eastern European, Russian, Thai, Brazilian, Jewish, Cuban, Pakistani, Puerto Rican, Haitian, Slavic, Ecuadorian, Dominican, Mississippi South, Irish, German, Japanese, Bolivian, Moroccan, Chinese...

"No finer words in the English language than 'Encased meats',"  Hot Doug's. Image courtesy of   Iforgetwho. If these are from your blog, please lemme know. I tagged and then lost the original blog and had to re-write much of it. This pic was saved.
The city of Chicago is built around these delicious ethnic enclaves - many of whom have had the opportunity to mezcla with otra styles and produce some odd and wonderful culinary delights (have I mentioned jibaritos and Italian beef sandwiches?).

Nobody should ever have to eat anything boring or dry or tasteless or centralized or freeze-dried in a warehouse or kept under a heating lamp. Eighty percent of the profits from every shake of celery salt should go right back to this wondrous city.

Whether we go out a couple of times a month or for every meal, there is no reason a Chicagoan has to eat the same meal more than once in her life. There are no more excuses to settle and dull our tastebuds and cultural experiences.

And yet we settle consistently for the McDonald'sPizzaHutBurgerKingDunkinDonutsMillerCoorsTacoBellStarbucksSubway conglomertes. Oddly enough, it is the multinational corporations that maintain, export, and import bland, one-world, hegemony. They co-opt, falsify, then sell a cultural idea.

  • Rather than being adventurous, are we settling for tried, true, and bland?
  • Rather than having special meals prepared and made fresh from our order, are we opting for ready-made, deep-frozen, and super-processed patties heated and assembled on-site?
  • Rather than sixty percent of our dollars going back into our neighborhoods, do we hope that what little wages local workers (if there are any, for many commute) are able to bring home that they'll invest at our next-door businesses?
  • Rather than building a network of community, trust, and quality, do we support the entrenched faceless corporations that are accountable to no one?
  • Rather than supporting our neighbors in their endeavors, are we settling for giving our hard-earned money back to the multinational corporations that are ruining our food supply, our governments, our way of life, our lives?

A study has shown that buying locally not only spurs development - and is better for the environment - but puts twice as much money into the economy as buying through chains. This study focused on the purchasing power of going through a farmer's market vs a supermarket - but I recognize that that may not be an option yet for many people. Buying from independent restaurants and stores allows a good start to build local sustainability.

Further from the Times article that the study was highlighted in:

[M]any local economies are languishing not because too little cash comes in, but as a result of what happens to that money. "Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going," he says, noting that when money is spent elsewhere—at big supermarkets, non-locally owned utilities and other services such as on-line retailers—"it flows out, like a wound." By shopping at the corner store instead of the big box, consumers keep their communities from becoming what the NEF calls "ghost towns" (areas devoid of neighborhood shops and services) or "clone towns", where Main Street now looks like every other Main Street with the same fast-food and retail chains
Eating and buying local keeps our neighborhoods, towns, burbs, etc from falling into the trap where one is lucky to land a minimum wage job with virtually no chance of elevating.

And it's yummy!

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