One of the more disappointing first-world moments of my life was when I asked a person in Switzerland what their best and most famous chocolate was, and he said Lindt. “LINDT?!,” I thought, “the one that I get at CVS back in New York?” Unfortunately, that was one of my many rude awakenings as a travel seeking to experience the best of “local” life. I am fortunate to live in a city where I have access to the world at my fingertips, but it makes traveling sometimes quite the bummer. Lately it seems that as the world grows more connected, the less we are able to really appreciate the novelty of traveling to a new place, experiencing a new culture, and tasting a type of food we’ve never tasted before.
I find it interesting that after years of globalization, at the all time high (and perpetually growing) level of global connectedness, many are now seeing a shift back to the importance of shopping and eating local. People are interested in knowing the source of their produce and proteins. Many people care about where the fabric for our clothes came from, and who made it. Websites such as madeclose focus on just that— helping individuals gain access to where their purchases are coming from. The new CUPS app here in NY aims to have New Yorkers frequent small, independent coffee shops, shifting the focus away from ever-present Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Grub Street wrote a fabulous article a few months ago about why you should not eat at the new Dairy Queen that just opened in NYC. My friend Kristin of Seamly.co just made the decision to only source fabrics made in the USA or Canada so that she can trace back their origins.
With the world becoming increasingly transparent, it is important to many people, including some of the worlds most dominant troublemakers, to buy local and understand the ecosystem our food, clothing, and the like exist in. We no longer have the luxury (excuse?) of ignorance. It’s something I aim to be consistently cognizant of– stay tuned to learn more about my sustainable fashion challenge– and I am curious to hear what you have to say.
Do you go out of your way to support local businesses? If not, is there something in particular that is stopping you?