Chewing the Fat: Think Globally, Enact Locally?

Ever wonder if the steaks served at Texas Roadhouse--or any other restaurant, for that matter--were actually raised in Texas?

Restaurant-goers in Upstate New York and Vermont, rightly proud of their famously pure, high-quality maple syrup, have come to expect the best, even when they go to IHOP. The only IHOP location in Vermont serves in-state syrup, and Senator Chuck Schumer says the restaurant should provide the same courtesy to New Yorkers in all 44 of its New York locations.

Schumer's on to something, here. When you get right down to it, wouldn't it taste great if more restaurant chains were compelled to serve local products when possible and appropriate? Not only would diners get the quality they expect, but local producers would get a bump in business.

On the other hand, this could open a whole new can of worms--locally dug, of course. If IHOP has to provide local syrup, what stops local pancake flour and orange juice producers from getting in on the action? It could all lead to a sort of bizarre protectionism. And it might wipe out the niche carved by restaurants already sourcing locally.

Besides, isn't compelling restaurant owners to do or not do something kinda wrong? Except when it comes to smoking bans or allowing Dewhurst to carry in his own wine, of course.

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