Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Food for Thought: The 3/50 Project

I think we're all spending more time lately thinking about the things that we can do to make a positive impact on the world around us. For me, small, simple, and doable is key -- I'm not a crusader, an organizer, or even much of a joiner. But I have been trying to be more mindful about how the decisions I make on a daily basis impact my community, whether it's the immediate one around me or the larger global community we all share.

I've been distressed to see so many of the small businesses in my area hurting, and several actually closing their doors in recent months. So the 3/50 Project is something that I can feel good about committing to (and that doesn't necessarily cost me anything extra, in terms of my budget or my time). This grassroots campaign aims to support independent brick-and-mortars by raising awareness about the importance of shopping locally and by reminding consumers that more than two-thirds of the money spent at local businesses is funneled right back into their community.

For my family, this means alternating between the big chain supermarket where we pick up our staples and the smaller, mom-and-pop grocery store where we get our produce, health-food items, and gourmet goodies from small, local suppliers (and where the food is better, anyway). It means eating at locally owned and -run restaurants instead of chains (ditto). It means hitting one of our area farmers' markets at least once a month (I'm not much of a cook, but I'm always inspired to make something healthy and tasty with the fresh, organic ingredients we get there). It means catching a flick at our historic hometown theater instead of at the big mall multiplex (somehow, the films are better when viewed in a grand 1920s movie palace). And it means shopping for that Mother's Day gift, household necessity, or occasional treat for myself at one of the many wonderful indie boutiques here in Oakland (and where I'm more likely to find something really unique). Plus, since most of these businesses in turn support homegrown producers, artists, craftspeople, and others, we're essentially getting twice the local bang for our buck.

These are all things we're already doing, of course, albeit in a rather grab-as-grab-can way. But after reading up on the 3/50 Project, I'm inspired to make a commitment to my local economy in a more planned and thoughtful way. So Farmer Joe's, Bakesale Betty, Grand Lake Farmers Market, Grand Lake Theater, Mignonne, Atomic Garden, Urban Indigo, Scout, et al., here I come. Because if any of you went away, my world would get a little dimmer.

(If you live elsewhere -- and I know most of you do -- check out my "Shopping" links in the right-hand column: Arranged by locale, they consist almost entirely of independent home shops and art galleries from the Bay Area to Brooklyn, and even across the pond to the U.K.)

Find out more about the 3/50 Project right here.


Unknown said...

what a great post. food for thought, indeed.

Tiffany S. said...

This is terrific! I will definitely pick my 3 and make them my go to places. I already have one picked out (Clover House,Seattle) and am sure I'll find the other two in no time! Thanks for the awareness.

rena said...

leah, you are the best. a big thank you from RD for always supporting us.


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