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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Becoming a Locallectual

LOCALLECTUAL


A "locallectual" is a person who is knowledgeable on all things local.  They empower themselves with this knowledge and strive to eat, shop, and buy locally.


Tonight was a great night at Miss Cordelia's in Memphis, Tennessee.  I had the distinct privilege as the proprietor of Sticky Fingers bakery of having been invited to the "Open House" as one of their locally-owned vendors.  It was truly inspiring to see a group of hard working locals sharing their craft and talking about their passion with truly interested people and consumers within the Memphis community.


Super Heady, Man


So why do I sound like such a heady, phish-
garbage schwilling yaya? Well, I lived in Bozeman, Montana, for a stint, and I totally drank the kool-aid.  Let me elaborate: Bozeman, Montana, is a place that, while small and sparsely populated, strongly encouraged local businesses, farmers, craftsmen, etc., to come together and work with one another (ie a town full of locallectuals).  Hell, the damn city literally booed out a Starbucks in favor for some really great local cafes.  I got to work as a baking apprentice and as a fish-cutter in two such establishments; both owned and operated locally, as well as both of them carrying locally-grown and produced products. Everyone shopped at the Co-Op (a "co-op" is a business, or in this case market, that is community-operated for the mutual benefit of the community).  The Co-Op carried mostly local fare.  Almost everything there I saw at the farmers' market.  All good things.


Miss Cordelia's is the closest thing I have seen to this kind of community togetherness in a grocer.  The place set up this well-run event tonight, provided vendors with nothing short of the shirts off their back, and basically let about 15 locally-owned businesses take a crack at the American Dream. I shook a ton of hands and did my fair share of kissing babies, but I also got to show many Memphians that "local" and "handcrafted" really is better.



All da cool kids buy local
So, why local? Statistically, studies have shown that buying local can strengthen the economy, reduce environmental impact, provide good jobs, give better service, and re-invest in the community (http://sustainableconnections.org/thinklocal/why).  I have seen first hand that a locally-owned business is much more likely to invest in a charitable project than a nationally-based operation is.  So, what, do you hate your community? Are you a misanthrope? You hate good things? Are you un-Ahmurican? No? Well, then buy local, dammit. Duh.


So, basically, Miss Cordelia's is the jam.  Tony Owens and his crew have been amazing.  He basically babysits us all.  A big hell yes to them.  Now, I am going to brief you on the good stuff: the local vendors here know what's up.  Many of them are using organic ingredients.  Miss Cordelia's recycles and composts and has their own sustainable herb garden and has a new local-vendor sponsoring program. BOOM. I feel all crunchy and western again.


So, I can tell you that:
"Tom's Tiny Kitchen" has the best damn pimento cheese. Period. And I'm a connoisseur.
"All Shook Up" has some of the cutest holiday gift ideas I've seen in a while.
"Mi-Me" has really great bath salts and bath products.
"The Uptown Grocer" is one of the best ideas I've seen, and is every housewife's saving-grace.
"Las Delisias" will be receiving its own post as it has yet to be triumphed by any other Mexican establishment. Anywhere.  And I. Love. Mexican.
 And, obvs, "Sticky Fingers" is what-it-do for pastry.


It's not all tree-hugging swill, ya goose.  Buying local is better for us all.  Ask the folks in Bozeman, Montana.  They'll agree.  And just because some of the people there can be liberal rasta dirtbags doesn't mean that they don't know a thing or two about good livin'.




-Stephanie



Project Green Fork is an organization that contributes to a sustainable Memphis by focusing on strengthening homegrown restaurants.  Please can check them out at http://projectgreenfork.org/   

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