Driving from New England to the mid-Atlantic states with two young children is fraught with challenges. One of them is that you have to deal with the New York Thruway, and the
Northway where the only places to stop are the highway rest areas with a few fast food choices at each. At least they moved from a Bob’s Big Boy to a Quizzno’s and Sbarro, but still. The choices are bleak for someone trying to travel green and healthy.
I try to pack. But packing three meals for a 10 hour driving day, and all the stuff the kids need for the trip, and everything I need– well, it is overwhelming for someone who despises packing as much as I do. And we have some challenges such as one severe nut allergy, 3 vegetarians, and a guy who would love to eat sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches everyday.
But what happens when we stop for food on the road, from chain fast food restuarants, or even “healthy” fast food? This kind of eating has consequences:
- It litters our streets
- It packs our landfills
- It chokes our waterways, harming wildlife, and our water supply
- It leads to childhood obesity
- It exposes us to harmful chemicals.
- It fills us with sugar, additives, and food colorings.
- Fast food chains drain local economies.
In short, eating at most chain restaurants is unhealthy for us and bad for the earth. It also sends massive amounts of our hard earned money out of our communities to multi-national corporations.
On a recent road trip, we were stuck in traffic and needed to find a place to eat. The kids went with their dad to Boston Market (ugh! I’m embarrassed to even write that!) and got macaroni and cheese and overcooked veggies. I walked next door and found a local deli. A lovely older man made me a veggie sandwich to order. I felt good supporting this deli, this local business of real people trying to make it work in a chain ridden, processed food world.
So– who’s up for a challenge?
Join me in pledge to avoid all food chains– I’m talking all of them— from Starbucks, to the Olive Garden, TGI Fridays, all of it.
Let’s make it reasonable. How about we run the first challenge for just one month. August. See if you can avoid stepping into any chain restaurant. I know this will take more work and planning, especially while traveling. But maybe we need to be looking a bit harder for the local and family owned pizzerias, delis, and diners on the road. Use your smart phone if you have one! Check out this diner we went to after a medical appointment in South Burlington. Not organic by a long stretch– but very local, authentic, and not packaged.
I must admit this will be easier for me in Vermont, we are after all the only Capitol in the nation without a McDonald’s. But I know we can all do this– for health, for the environment, for our kids, and for local communities.
If chains are REALLY all you have, then try a week! Come back and tell me all about your experiences in the comments.
Please add a comment to join in this challenge. You can simply leave your name, a tip, or an idea about how to get this going. During the challenge, please come back and post your experiences. Or, email them to me (at non-toxic-kids at comcast dot net) and I can feature them in a post.
Please post this on Facebook, twitter, and place the badge on your blog or website (find it here) to show that you are taking the No Chain Challenge! Thank you for your help in spreading the word.
Together, we can take back our health, our dollars, and support local communities and the environment!