Of all the places I've lived, Asheville is the most progressive and open-minded, and that's one of the things I love about it. So I find it disturbing how much anti-barefoot sentiment there seems to be among local businesses.
I avoid wearing shoes whenever possible, for reasons of health, comfort and convenience. Yet many local businesses — such as the French Broad Food Co-op, Rosetta's, and even Firestorm Cafe, to name a few — ask me to leave if I arrive without shoes. These are all wonderful and very progressive businesses, which is why I am perplexed by these ridiculous and arbitrary rules.
I can't count the number of times I've been told, "Sorry, there's a health department regulation" or something like that. Not true. There is no such rule in North Carolina, or any other state. Go ahead, ask them. In fact, there is no law or rule of any kind, in any state, requiring that shoes be worn in public places, businesses or restaurants.
Somehow people have the idea that bare feet are unsanitary or unsafe. There is no rational reason to support this myth: The rubber soles of shoes, full of crevices, hold far more dirt and bacteria than the smooth bottom of a foot. Most dirt that does get on your feet gets brushed off in a few steps. And unlike the moist, dark, hot, anaerobic environment inside a shoe (a perfect breeding ground for bacteria), bare feet are exposed to ultraviolet light, oxygen and moving air, so they stay clean and dry. And in any case, you're eating with your hands, not your feet, and food isn't being served on the floor.
As far as glass, the few times I've encountered broken glass, it has been easy to to step around; and while running, I have intentionally stepped on broken glass just to prove how minuscule a risk it is. Remember that the skin is thicker on the bottom of your feet than anywhere else. Finally, every medical study ever done on the subject has shown that bare feet are far less susceptible to many diseases and injuries.
I'm not some primitivist or anti-establishment hippie. I just think policies should be based on reason, not irrational taboo. Business owners have the right to make whatever rules they wish. But when I'm spending my hard-earned money, more of it will go to those that don't discriminate against bare feet.
— Daniel Africk