I posted a question on Facebook asking what people’s definition of locally owned was. It brought a lot of different responses that I found pretty fascinating. Diners and owners all chimed in with their own definitions. Whether it was someone who owned a franchise or started their own restaurant, there were many valid points made. People brought up things like the restaurant had to be started here, the headquarters has to be here, the money has to stay here, etc.
After reading the comments, I asked myself a different question but similar in nature, ‘What does eating local mean to me?” I re-read all the comments and started to formulate my own definition as it’s something I am needing for a future project.
When I think of eating local, I looked back on my travels around the country. Anytime I am in a new area, I scour the internet, ask questions, and research all the places I can eat and base solely on one criteria: is it unique to the city?
That led me to thinking, “Why should my definition of eating local be different from eating local when I travel?”
To me eating local in Wichita is finding a place that is unique to this city. If you’re coming to visit Wichita, you’ll only be able to find that restaurant here in Wichita (with perhaps a second location in the nearby area like Derby, Andover, etc.) and no where else. The beauty of eating local is you can ONLY get it here. It’s what makes Wichita restaurants different.
While my definition of eating local could very well be different from yours, I think eating local is also different from supporting local. I think going to restaurants that are owned by local people who put their own money and hard work into starting the place is supporting local and extra props if they are giving back to the community. Of course there are variables to consider but hopefully you get my point.
Having a baby has fortunately allowed me to be up in the wee hours of the night doing research. I’ve been maintaining a list of every single restaurant and food truck in Wichita. From that list, I did my best to narrow it down to just those unique to our city. My final number was right around 500.
Eating local is definitely something I do a lot of but I don’t let that prevent me from eating at other restaurants in town.
What does eating local mean to you?