Guest blogger Monica Sakala of Wired Momma shares the importance of dining local. 


“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” wisely noted Virginia Woolf. And as a mom to two young girls, like any parent in America, I need to think, love and sleep every day – and I need to do these things well in order to raise good citizens – therefore I deserve a great meal, right?

Now, unfortunately as parents of young kids, most of us rarely get to eat a meal peacefully but we can still eat a delicious meal as we simultaneously settle sibling disputes, negotiate with stubborn toddlers to eat what’s on their plate and attempt a conversation with our spouse. In fact, serving our children a variety of delicious foods every day is fundamentally important to not only nourishing them properly but also teaching them to eat well and try new foods.

One of the best ways to do this, in my opinion, is to eat locally. Frankly, if I am going to head out to spend money at a restaurant, even with my kids in tow, you will never find me eating in a chain restaurant. Eating a delicious meal at a local restaurant is one of the most authentic means of learning the flavors and customs of the neighborhood. As I’ve traveled the country, it’s apparent to me that to experience the nuance of any town is to try its local food traditions. You’ll never learn this at a big box chain.

It’s also the ideal way to meet neighbors. Earlier this summer we moved locally. It was only a four mile move but it’s still a new community and a new selection of restaurants that are unique just to our new town. Trying each of the new restaurants, whether it be learning the new local pizza shop or trying the small bistro down the street, is teaching us about our community, gives us the chance to meet new friends and helps us create new customs and habits as we settle into our new home.

Eating locally is important for another reason: the local economy. The trend today seems to be farm to table but I’d remind others that just as important is supporting the local businesses because they are the entrepreneurs who pump money back into the local economy. In fact, an August 2012 study by Civic Economics notes that local restaurants return almost 80 percent of their revenue locally compared to just 30 percent for national chain eateries. It’s the local restaurants who support our kids’ little league teams, who sponsor fundraising nights for local preschools and elementary schools, who provide jobs to our residents and support local farms by purchasing their produce.

So whether it’s a much-needed date night with a spouse, a rejuvenating girls night out or a family dinner on the town, we always dine locally and hopefully our kids will do the same as they grow older. Look, no matter how tired we are, we must eat well to love well and think well, and you rarely go wrong by eating locally.

When she’s not eating out locally, or settling epic battles over My Little Ponies between her two daughters, Monica blogs at Wired Momma.