Happy Independence Day week to everyone out there! Wednesday is the day we celebrate our independence from the tyranny of a king, but it’s also a great occasion to think about our independence from all sorts of things. Your support of Athens Locally Grown greatly helps the cause of food independence for our community, for starters. Did you know that, on average, American farmers receive only nine cents out of every dollar that gets spent on food? By the time you take out the cut of the processors, the distributors, the wholesalers, and so forth, only 9% is left for the farm. And of course, they’ve got to try to meet all of the expenses of running a farm with that money, and pretty much the only way to do that is by consolidating the farmland into huge “corporate” farms that can get by with the economies of scale. The farms might be independent family-owned enterprises on paper, but they’re beholden to all of those other interests that control the other 91% of the food dollar. Here at Athens Locally Grown, the growers keep 90% of every dollar, turning small, truly family owned and operated farms into viable businesses. That fosters variety for you, provides a sustainable use of our community’s green space, and helps in no small way Athens be a more self-reliant community.
For you, too, these growers and their products let you become independent from the corporate grocer, who is told by the corporate office in Cincinnati or Bentonville or Asheville what they can and can’t stock and who they can source their produce from. You’re given the freedom to choose who grows and produces your food and how they grow and produce it. If you don’t like one grower’s products or methods, you have a hundred others, all located right here, to choose from.
And of course by sourcing your food so close to home, you don’t have to be reliant on an overtaxed and under-vigilant inspection system to make sure your food is safe. The government at all levels actively tries to reduce your ability to choose where your food comes from in the name of safety, so not everything is rosy. Sometimes the regulations are warranted, but often the rules put in place are easy for corporate farms but extremely difficult for small farmers to meet. Our fight for independence is an ongoing one, and your voice in support of the small local producer does get heard.
Thank you so much for your support of Athens Locally Grown, all of our growers, local food, and our rights to eat it. You all are part of what makes Athens such a great area in which to live. We’ll see you on Thursday at Ben’s Bikes at the corner of Pope and Broad Streets from 4:30 to 8pm!
Other Area Farmers Markets
The Athens Farmers Market has returned to Saturday mornings at Bishop Park and Wednesday afternoons at Creature Comforts downtown. You can catch the news on their website. The West Broad Farmers Market has returned, and you can catch the details on their website here: http://www.athenslandtrust.org/west-broad-farmers-market/. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 9am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running Saturdays from 9 to noon. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. Folks to the east can check out the Hartwell Farmers Market, which starts bright and early on Saturday morning from 7am to noon, and Tuesday afternoons from noon to 4pm. The city of Monroe has a downtown market on Saturdays, 8:30 to 12:30, and you can learn more here: http://www.monroedowntown.com/events/monroe-farmers-market. If you know of any other area markets operating, please let me know.
All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!