Join Me: Take the No Chain Challenge!

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:

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!

7 Responses to Join Me: Take the No Chain Challenge!

  1. Schveigal July 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I am in the process of trying to make better life style choices for both myself and my family. I think pledging to not eat at chain restaurants is a great idea and I am up for the challenge.

  2. Katy Farber July 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Hoorah! Thanks for being the first one to sign up for the challenge with me. Please come back and post about your experiences here. Good luck and let me know how it is going!

  3. J. Lawrence July 26, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    I'm in with the exception of Whole Foods!

  4. Miser Mom July 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    I joined this challenge several years ago! I'm way with you. I've discovered cute little family-owned pizza places, tiny chinese restaurants, retro 50's diners . . . there are a lot of great locally-owned restaurants out there.I've come to think of packing snacks/sandwiches not as a way of avoiding restaurants, but as a way of staving off hunger and keeping everyone comfortable until we can find a restaurant that we're happy to attend. This way, finding the restaurant we like becomes a happy hunting expedition for us all.

  5. Katy Farber July 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Yay, J. Lawerence! Please come back and tell me how it is going.Miser Mom, brilliant! I love that you have found locally owned places in your travels. I also think the mind set of packing food to eat until you can find one everyone is happy with is fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing, and for signing on! It sounds like you are already an old hat at this. I'm sure readers will love your tips. Please come back and write more if you like of any additional pearls of wisdom!

  6. schveibaby August 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    So far this challenge has not been too hard, but I have to admit that it was hard to give up the drive through window at Dunkin Donuts in the beginning. I had gotten so used to buying ice tea a couple of times a week, but I am making it at home again which is nice. I almost caved today and bought something at DD's because I did not have time to eat breakfast before I dropped my son off at school, I was starving, and my little one was napping in the car. Luckily I found a granola bar in my bag to tide me over until lunch. Thanks for posting this challenge it definitely makes me think before choosing the unhealthy route even if it is the easy one.


  1. 10 Tips for Healthy, Toxin-Free Road Trips with Children this Summer | Non-toxic Kids - October 9, 2013

    […] cheaper and healthier than eating at fast food and other chain restaurants! I issued a challenge– pledge to avoid the chain restaurants this summer to find quirky, local eateries and support local […]

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