Happy Independence Day weekend to everyone out there! Today we celebrated 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. The other 10% powers the market every week. 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.
We’ve all learned the hard way this last year that our supply chain is a fragile one, and not just for food. Mountains of potatoes in Idaho were dumped into pits in the ground because there was no way to get them to customers. Meat processing plants shut down and industrial pork producers “disposed” of their animals because their finely tuned system couldn’t afford to keep them on the farms longer than necessary. And now that the plants are up again, meat prices are soaring because there just isn’t enough to go around. It’s a terrible system when you look just under the surface, even in the best of times, and your support of out local growers lets us all become independent of that terrible system.
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 at our market’s home on Tallassee Road!
We are still getting new customers every week (and we love seeing new faces!) so for all of you you can find a detailed run-down of how Thursdays go on our website here: https://athens.locallygrown.net/faq#7
Other Area Farmers Markets
If ALG doesn’t have everything you need, please support our growers at the other markets that are now back up and running, or at their own locations. The Comerian takes online orders for Saturday pickup at the bakery here: https://www.thecomerian.com/online-ordering. The Athens Farmers Market is holding their Saturday market once again in Bishop Park. They’re still operating under pandemic rules, so you’ll want to read up on all the changes on their website, http://athensfarmersmarket.net. The West Broad Farmers Market is back, holding a drive through market just like us (and using my software too, so it’ll be nice and familiar). You can join them at https://wbfm.locallygrown.net. The Saturday market in Comer has also returned. They’re small, but sometimes an early Saturday drive to Comer is just what the soul needs. And of course Collective Harvest is going strong over at https://www.collectiveharvestathens.com.
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!