A new study published in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society has found communities which rely on small businesses — not large companies — have fewer problems, and their residents have fewer health problems.
Sociologists theorize that given their ties to the community — which creates a sort of built-in accountability — small businesses are more likely to care about the well-being of their employees, customers, and other local citizens.
To me, this is a surprising, albeit welcome, finding. As I understand it, the lack of large businesses in poor urban neighborhoods is one reason for the existence of food deserts. (Food deserts are communities with limited or no access to fresh produce). The disadvantage of a community served by small business grocers alone is that mom-and-pop shops have more difficulty absorbing the cost of unsold foods with short shelf lives that are more likely to spoil or expire before selling.
Could supporting small businesses really improve your health? It sounds plausible in the case of restaurants. No matter how many poor quality ingredients your corner store is loading onto your sandwich, it’s probably still a sandwich. The same cannot be said of sandwiches from fast-food chains, which more closely resemble chemical cocktails.
There’s little question that supporting small businesses is good for the health of our economy — successful small businesses have always been the engine of America — but could they be better for your personal health, too?
What do you think? Is supporting small businesses healthier?