I eat local. I also eat at Chick-Fil-A.

Hanging out at the play place with friends.

Hanging out at the play place with friends.

As has been the case for the past couple of years, the sales numbers for Little Rock-area restaurants have been released, and the local Chick-Fil-A franchises are in the top. This has our local alt-weekly foaming at the mouth pitting people who eat local against those who eat at Chick-Fil-A.

For one thing, as I learned when trying to decide if I, a huge supporter of marriage equality and gay rights, should boycott CFA, our CFAs are locally owned franchises. I don’t personally know the owners, but friends who do have told me that they are not homophobic and do not support anti-equality causes. In fact, they have supported friends’ ministries, like Young Life.

Still, I get the urge to shop local and eat local. I’m a largely vegetarian, farmer’s market shopping foodie. When we go out to eat, our favorites are local places like The Root, South on Main, Bruno’s, Big Orange, Local Lime, The Fold, La Hacienda, and Damgoode Pies. I haven’t eaten at a chain like an Applebee’s or Chili’s or Olive Garden in YEARS. I think eating locally grown, locally made food from locally owned places is absolutely the ideal.

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Farmer’s market babies with their local produce.

But as a mom with young kids? I also eat at Chick-Fil-A. Not because my kids only eat nuggets. Nope. I’m raising baby foodies who eat whatever we eat, every single meal. But because there is just no locally-owned equivalent to my usual CFA experience: going at breakfast time, sipping coffee with my mom friends and getting to socialize, while our kids play on a safe, clean, indoor playground. Plus, our local CFA’s always have more than enough high chairs, changing tables in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms, free placemats, and a really excellent staff that usually helps me to my table with my food and highchair and kid. They have never ever ever looked askance at me and my mom posse dragging along a pack of short people.

In my wildest fantasies, there would be an indoor play place at someplace like Mylo Coffee, and I could eat delicious pastries while chatting with my mama friends and watching my kids play, and not a single hipster with a Macbook Air would give me a dirty look over my kids harshing their quiet coffee shop mellow.

But that doesn’t exist. So I’ll keep taking my kids out to eat hyper-local food for dinner, but I’m also not giving up my occasional mornings at CFA, either.

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4 thoughts on “I eat local. I also eat at Chick-Fil-A.

  1. Although I don’t have the kid factor to think about, I always try to tell people that yeah, I support local businesses and choose them 9 times out of 10, especially when it comes to food – but I also support the people who own chain franchises and work at them, so even if I’m not always personally eating there, I’ll never bad mouth chains. People have to eat, and they have to work, and we shouldn’t judge people (with our money or our minds) for doing what they have to to do either.

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  2. Your children are so sweet and a good reason to watch what you are all eating. I’m planning a big vegetable garden, if the snow ever leaves.
    Leslie

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  3. We’re exactly the same. When it’s just me and my husband, we always choose local places to eat. We often order takeout from local places.

    But when I have my seven kids in tow? Yeah, we’re hitting Chik-fil-A. I don’t agree with their opinions on marriage equality BUT I have always been impressed with how kind, helpful, and understanding their staff is. From keeping the bathrooms stocked with diapers, wipes, and feminine hygiene products to helping me get the meals set up for my kids to helping us all get safely across the parking lot – they go above and beyond every single time at every single location we’ve been to. I wish local places were set up for families like mine but they aren’t. So we support them when we can and otherwise hit places that cater to kids.

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