One in a million? Not yet. We’re one in 8,100

 ~by Colleen O’Brien

As of June 3, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’sfarmersmarket directory listed more than 8,100 markets in the country. The criteria are two or more farm vendors selling agricultural products directly to customers at a common, recurrent physical location.

One of these 8,100 is our own Greene Countyfarmers market, the place where we can buy fresh and local – the cheapest and most nutritious way to eat. 

If you think that Farmers Market is too expensive for you, remember that big corporation food products are subsidized by our taxes, and they are apt to contain pesticides or antibiotics or dye or extra wheat, sugar, salt or unpronounceable taste enhancers and preservatives.

Some of what we can buy at our farmers market is official organic, the rest unofficial or not organic at all. It takes a lot of time and money to be labeled officially organic – many rules and regs from the Feds — so,a good number of farmers simply farm organically without obtaining official status. This means they don’t use antibiotics, hormones or chemicals. This means they let their chickens run around being chickens, and their pigs are able to socialize with each other through the day as they all seek the coolest place, and that cows get to eat grass as they were designed to and are moved from paddock to paddock for this treat. This means the vegetables may be completely natural.

If you know the farmers you’re buying from, you can trust them when they tell you how they grow their carrots or their cows.

Monsanto, a giant company that sells genetically modified food seeds, keeps suing individual farmers, counties (two in Oregon—Jackson and Josephine) and now entire states (Vermont) because non-Monsanto pollen gets into their fields (please, Monsanto) and because some towns and states across the country are making laws that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be labeled as such. Monsanto doesn’t want us in the U.S. to know, even though when they sell to other countries, they often have to list their GMO products. Monsanto is a huge corporation with big money as well as a place to spend it, influencing legislatures and Congress to help them tell no one their secrets.

Germany, Ireland, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, France, Bulgaria, Mexico, Switzerland and Japan have either banned GMOs or require labeling or a license to sell them or plant them.I would be happy if our elected reps at all levels actually worked for us rather than for big corps. In Iowa, North Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Oregon and West Virginia, state legislatures have passed or moved to pass laws banning localities from passing their own GMO-free laws.It seems to me that if one wants to grow seeds that are at the mercy of weeds, drought and bugs, one should be able to do so.

Because of a growing concern regarding how GMOs might affect our own human genetic futures, more and more consumers, retailers and brands are taking action – like Whole Foods grocery stores that have banned GMO food products in their locations and like Sierra Community Theatre in town that buys regional organic popcorn. Instead of demonizing GM (genetically modifying) companies, if we’re interested, we can just support non-GMO foods. Most companies respond to the bottom line.

But, in the meantime, we have a vigorous farmers market in Jeff for four months, and the possibility of buying and canning or freezing veggies for the winter months. The scene is on the shady side of the square each Tuesday afternoon, and we are lucky to have it. When you look at the USDA’s figure of 8,100 markets across the country, that’s not many for a national population of around 314 million.Not all farmers markets are totally organic, but they are local, meaning it takes less energy to get the goods to market, so the goods are fresher and the nutritive value is thus higher.

See you at Farmers Market!

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