Sarah Grizzle is a regular visitor to the Athens Farmers Market for two reasons: a sense of community and conservation.
Grizzle attends the local farmers market each week as if she were going to Sunday brunch with some of her close friends. For her, the market is a place to get connected with the Athens community and support its local efforts. Grizzle appreciates that the market keeps her mindful of where the food she eats comes from and how it is grown.
“It’s just to be able to eat local,” Grizzle said. “The food, you know, it doesn’t travel very far. The food is responsibly raised, locally sourced. You get to meet the people who are growing it. Then, you can support what they are doing and that’s super cool.”
This local consumption of food that Grizzle participates in falls under the umbrella of what conservation experts consider green eating. Green eating involves being conscious of how the foods you eat affect the environment and, as a result, making more conscious food choices.
Sarah Thurman, Athens Farmers Market manager, explained that the Athens Farmers Market originated as a way to help locals, such as Sarah Grizzle, be more environmentally conscious in their food choices.
“The market came up as an opportunity to connect people with the food that was growing in their neighborhood and also provide a livelihood for people in the community who wanted to grow food,” Thurman said. “And then, also serve as a tool to educate people about how their diet affects their health and how their food choices affect the environment and the community.”
According to the National Resources Defense Council, green eating involves eating locally as well as choosing climate-friendly food, buying organic foods, and monitoring your food waste. The Athens Farmers Market allows for locals to enjoy locally grown foods that have not been exposed to herbicides, insecticides, pesticides and that have not been enhanced in any way.
“When you’re able to sell at a farmers’ market, you might not have to sell the perfect bell pepper, you’re able to sell produce as it is rather than as we imagine it should be,” Thurman said.
Conservation experts suggest that locally produced foods are better for the environment because the food is produced in the same communities they are sold in. Many foods at the grocery store are transported miles away from where they are grown, resulting in high levels of pollution in the air.
“A lot of produce at Kroger has been gassed to preserve it in the transportation process,” Thurman said. “Tomatoes are artificially ripened using gases and have traveled thousands of miles using a lot of petroleum, causing a larger effect on our environment as well as more food waste in the process.”
Part of the Athens Farmers Market’s efforts to encourage green eating footprint is the annual Autumn Harvest Feast. The recently held festival is the 7th in a series of annual festivals aimed at encouraging locals to come out, enjoy a night of dining and dancing while helping to support local farmers and the effort to stay green.
By: Denver Ellison