Saturday in Athens, Georgia. It's the most exciting time of the year as the Georgia Bulldog kickoff between the hedges at Sanford Stadium. But this post isn't about a stadium filled with 92,746 crazed fans or a game of football. Away from the sundresses, Croakies and Keystone Lights of Milledge Avenue and smoky, charcoal fumes around campus are humble, hardworking, local Athenians trying to make a living. Yes my friends, I'm referring to the Athens Farmers Market.
Every Saturday between 8am - 12pm at Bishop Park, local farmers and businesses bring their products to this small lot and provide local, quality goods to the people of Athens. Artisan breads, free-filtered coffee, organic produce, fresh eggs, local meats, handcrafted goods - they have it all. To top it off, there's live music to make your shopping experience that much more enjoyable. But...where is everyone? I'm pretty much the only person here in the early 20s. My peers from freshmen to super seniors...where are they? Perhaps too much of a good thing the night before has delayed their appearance? It's true many don't know the market even exists but many avoid it entirely on Saturday mornings. Why? They don't give a damn about the foods they eat or it's just too expensive for them to afford. Or is it?
Let's get one thing out of the way: buying local, organic foods cost more money. The produce, proteins and products in general are more expensive versus Kroger and God forbid - Walmart. Just think about who shops at Whole Foods. It usually isn't your everyday American making $50,000 a year trying to pay mortgages, bills and buy food. They're mostly people of middle-upper to upper socioeconomic status that can afford $1 lemons and $16.99 per pound tenderloins. So how can college students, who are stereotypically poor, afford organic, local produce? Cut back on unnecessary expenses, eat in moderation and start cooking instead of eating out every night.
(sorry little girl, this picture's staying)
If there's one thing I strongly support, it's cage-free eggs. I can't tell you how many times I hear "Why buy eggs for $4 when I can buy a dozen for $1?" around campus. For those of us who already buy cage-free eggs, the difference is like night and day: the shell is harder, the yolk is perkier and the taste is much better. Now, I understand that this may not be the case for all students. Some work part/full-time while taking 15 credit hours trying to get a degree and it should be understood if these students can't afford expensive foods. But this response genuinely pisses me off especially when it comes from someone I know who has and spends money liberally downtown. By consuming one less drink per week, these students can easily afford cage-free eggs or buy more organic/local produce. But what are the chances of persuading an ignorant frat boy to have one less Natty Ice or a classmate who doesn't care about the quality of food? It's slim if not impossible.
As long as I stay in the town of Athens, I'll always be a firm supporter of the Athens Farmer's Market, Earth Fare and any other local purveyors. But in a party school town where most students don't care about the quality of foods they're eating, the slow food movement doesn't seem like it'll be growing any time soon in Athens. Regardless, here's one man that's willing to fight.
Athens Farmers Market
Bishop Park, 8am - 12pm
705 Sunset Drive, Athens, GA 30606