Take the $10 Challenge! We dare you. By
A friend of ours recently flew out of state and had some time to kill in the airport. He decided to hit a bar for a quick bite and a beer before his flight. He settled for some stale chips, some frozen-thawed guacamole, some lifeless carrots, and a bottle of beer from a big bottler. The snack was cheap enough, but the beer cost him $10. Ten bucks.
Perhaps he would have been better off just staying here. He could have had an Urban Farmhouse Arugula Salad with dried apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette, and a frosty Star Hill. And he could have kept his $10 in the state.
Matthew Lohr, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has challenged each of us to do just that. He would like to see each household in our Commonwealth spend a ten-spot each week on local products. It’s the $10 Challenge. We kind of like that idea. The big thing is how much that would do for Virginia.
Agriculture is already the largest industry in the State, and has an economic impact of about $55 billion each year. Look at it this way:
- Virginia has over 47,000 farms
- Farms cover 8.1 million acres, or 32% of the State
- 90% of them are owned and operated by individuals or families
- There are about 60,000 farmers and workers, and they in turn create another 221,000 jobs
If each of us accepted Matthew’s challenge, it would contribute $1.65 billion to our local economy. That’s a whole lot of cabbage. Just saying.
So how do you spend your ten dollars? We know that you’re thinking about driving to Polyface Farms, but you could just as easily hit your local farmer’s market. There’s a link here for pick-your-own farms and markets. The South of the James Market is going to open one right down the street from us in a few weeks. The Virginia Street Market, at 114 Virginia Street will go live on May 10.
You could also look for Virginia products when you go to the grocery. If you don’t see the logo for Virginia Grown or Virginia’s Finest, ask someone! You can buy Virginia apples, cheeses, flowers, herbs, and of course, wine.
Many of our constituents around town like to buy local. A real quick and easy way to spend your sawbuck is to hit up a local restaurant, like, well, US. We offer many dishes made with local items. It doesn’t just have to be food, though. We also offer things other than food that are made locally, like Macs Smack.
Some friends from down the cobblestones started an event last year that we thought was pretty cool. The Shockoe Design District Day. The owners of LaDifference got together with some other folks and decided to celebrate the creativity in the Slip and the Bottom. They’re doing it again this weekend, Saturday the 24th from 10 until 8. There will be wine tastings, live music, Segway rides, and things Virginian. LaDiff will have some experts on American Furniture giving some history lessons, Karen Atkinson of the South of the James Market will be offering tips, and it will be a great opportunity to see some local artisans and work.
Just be sure to bring your appetite, and a ten-dollar bill.