Thursday, August 04, 2011

buy local

Our street is lined with empty storefronts interspersed with small mom-and-pops. In the space of one block, there are two seamstresses, two small groceries, two fruit-and-vegetable marts, a butcher’s shop, an internet café, two regular cafes, two clothing shops, a used-clothing store, and a “dyqan ndryshme” – I suppose you’d call it a variety store? They sell laundry baskets, mops, plastic tubs, house slippers, clocks, knick-knacks, hair accessories, makeup, mirrors, sewing thread, scissors… it’s our own little micro-Wal-Mart. It’s easy to run down and buy a quart of milk or a bag of çubuk, or any of those random little things you need but don’t want to make a long trip for.

Here’s my problem – the food stuff, it isn’t always fresh. Every time I’ve bought produce, dairy, or meat, I’ve been disappointed. The rope of onions I bought one day all had rotten centers. The plums and nectarines grew mold overnight. The chicken breasts and ground beef sat in my fridge for just one day before I put them in the freezer, and upon thawing smelled bad and I had to throw them out.

And I feel bad, because I walk past the empty storefronts with big “FOR RENT OR SALE” signs in our building, and I don’t want these other shops to close for lack of business. But slow business is the reason their stuff goes bad – they probably buy the cheap, low-quality stuff to begin with, and then it sits too long because the turnover isn’t fast enough. So I feel like by not shopping there I’m contributing to the problem. But I can’t feed my family tainted meat or rotten fruit. So… I go around the corner to the nicer shops on the main avenue. And feel guilty walking past the local guy.

(Although I guess as long as I can avoid the Italian chain grocery store I’m still more or less ok.)

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