In a piece today about neighborhood restaurants, Lane Wallace eloquently states something I think we're all looking for while trying to reduce our carbon footprint, eat organically and healthfully and respectfully to the planet and human and animal rights, and on and on. It's the sense that someone knows us and we're part of a community. It's the reason I bang on so much about Jamaica Plain and am such a fan, and frequenter, of our food store, cafe, and general meeting point, City Feed.
It's a point Wendell Berry made long ago about a local store that probably had a name just like City Feed—the compact that exists between any member of a community and the merchants to sell it, in which the customer agrees to pay more to have that store be a part of the fabric of local life. It can't be stated enough, and Lane states it particularly well (read the whole post to see what comes before the end I can't resist plucking out, please):
Whether they're simple taquerias, coffee houses, or culinary temples, [restaurants] are an important mechanism for maintaining some ability to connect casually with neighbors, form new connections, and build a common sense of neighborhood. If the food is memorable, that's an added treat. But local flavor goes beyond the taste of an organic strawberry harvested that morning from a nearby farm. And it's just as important as the food itself.