We founded our company on a set of values, the most important of which is a commitment to use locally-produced spirits, ingredients, and garnishes whenever possible. As big brands commandeer words like "local" and "green", I find myself wondering if these words hold meaning anymore. We use our promise to source locally-produced products to promote our business and tell clients about the value of what we do, but does the benefit of this commitment ring true for you? Does it feel authentic to us? We know we want it to.
We thought about it a lot this week and wanted to share some thoughts with you around the use of words like "local", "sustainable", and even "organic". Jen and I believe these terms can only hold meaning for us if we invest in the practices that define them.
As an example, compare these two experiences.
You've probably guessed which one delights me, but let's think critically about this issue. Is one of these experiences more "precious" than the other? Is one of these experiences more harmful to the earth than the other? Is one of these experiences more detrimental to my community than the other? Here are some factors I considered:
We don't need imitation caramel color to trick our minds into thinking that this flavor is vanilla. Surely our taste buds can discern vanilla's a nuanced flavor. True vanilla extract should be a pale, clear preparation.
Locally-owned businesses tend to make more local purchases, requiring less transportation and generally setting up shop in city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to urban sprawl, overcrowding, habitat loss and environmental contamination. Vanilla doesn't grow in Portland, Oregon, so in both experiences, the beans had to travel some distance to get to me. If I decide to use vanilla, I have to take responsibility for this fact. Even so, I believe the one small glass bottle given in the second example is a better use of resources, because when it's empty I may reuse it for my own bitters or even return it for refilling if I find the time.
The process of becoming USDA-certified organic farm or producer is so lengthy and expensive that most small- and especially first-time business owners simply don't pursue it. Therefore, organic is a factor, but not THE factor, we consider as a brand when making our purchasing decisions.
The customer service is incredible in the second experience, because I've consulted with a Portions Master and authority in her field, someone with a better understanding than I of the products I need. There's no guarantee of this experience at Safeway, a brand that can't (or won't) empower its employees to taste, learn, discover, and share.
When you purchase from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, shops, and farms -- continuing to strengthen the commercial activity of the community. In Flower Hand Wellness, I have a friendship and business relationship, and this community member is able to support herself in part because of my purchase. Jeevan lives in Portland and is unlikely to leave anytime soon, meaning that she's emotionally and financially invested in our community’s health and future.
Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the unique character of this place, which adds to the value of our city as a destination, so tourism-based companies also benefit.
“When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust
Thinking locally means being a good community member, which is why we share our Living Wage Policy publicly. When researching fine event bartending services on the West Coast, you may notice that our prices are a bit higher than our competitors. Mint & Mirth provides the highest level of personalized service to our clients, and this drive requires the very best quality employee, even at a bar-backing level. We are dedicated to providing our wonderful employees with a fair living wage, and our wage is higher than our local competitors by around 15%. By instituting a living wage policy, we are hoping to lead the marketplace in attracting and retaining the most qualified bar staff. We feel a responsibility to our hometown and our community. Given the success of our little company, it's also just the right thing to do.
These experiences have led me to decide that locally-sourced products will always be a part of the Mint & Mirth experience. I would love to hear more about what buying local means to you and whether these choices still feel significant for you and your family.
As always, I'm just an email away.
We are cocktail caterers and event planners in Portland, Oregon.
Where We've Been
Charleston, South Carolina
Where We Want to Go
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