Saturday, May 30, 2009

My 20/20 Challenge

I met a friend for lunch in Andersonville today, and picked up a flyer about the neighborhood's 20/20 Challenge. Promoted by the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, the idea is, if each resident commits to spending just $20 a week in their neighborhood for a total of 20 weeks, local restaurants and business owners will prosper. This will support small businesses in the neighborhood and enable them to keep their doors open, because people are more likely to visit thriving and vibrant neighborhoods than they are to frequent those with vacant or boarded-up storefronts!

I'm a huge proponent of mom-and-pop stores (and of supporting local businesses), and I think this challenge is a great idea. I didn't sign up for A-ville's challenge, however, because I would rather spend that money in my own neighborhood; it's a remarkably easy thing to do! So far this week, I've gotten take-out from the restaurant down the street, bought some cat food at the nearest pet boutique, and washed my clothes at the independently owned laundromat. That doesn't even count the meals I've eaten at the restaurant where I work (they're supposed to be supporting me, not the other way around!) and I'm well over my $20 already.

Along those lines, I'd like to take my personal challenge a step further and try to do the same thing at my local farmer's market. $20 doesn't go nearly as far there as it does at the grocery store, but if these small farms are going to survive in the face of big agriculture, they need our support. With a little planning, I think I can stretch my $20 by basing my meals around the produce that in season (that which is most plentiful is usually the cheapest!) any given week. I can even get cheese, eggs, meat, and some baked goods from these farmers, so I won't get bored.

There, I've said it out loud; I am going to "vote with my wallet" this summer and support the local farmers who are using sustainable and environmentally sound methods of growing their food. Now-- who's with me?

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