Farmer’s Markets can only go so far in producing food under ethical, ecologically sound conditions: what’s needed is a whole new, regionally directed, distribution system.
Bob Comis doesn’t pull any punches when he busts open a few myths surrounding our idyllic vision of the farmer’s market. As a man devoted to the ethical principles behind the farmer’s market model, he does this not out of spite but as a way of galvanizing those who believe in the importance of ecologically sound and ethical farming.
He highlights that it is not a return to some previously ideal agricultural state which is required, but rather a reinvigoration of the whole distribution process:
To get beyond niche level, we need to radically change our marketing model. We do not need to sacrifice the integrity of our cultural model. We can and will continue to farm ethically. I want 30 percent of food consumed in the United States to be produced under ethical, ecologically sound conditions. But, to get there, we need to get my pork in front of the consumer, not the consumer in front of my pork. It’s as simple as that.
His call to arms is interesting as he highlights how the nostalgia for a pre-industrialized mode of agricultural has permitted enthusiasts to gloss over the reality of how commodity oriented the practice of farming has been even at the turn of the 20th century, and how integral a good marketing model has always been to farming. The face to face authenticity provided by farmer’s markets is understandably comforting to those concerned by the current methods of food production, but the ethical imperative underpinning farmer’s markets is not just about that, rather
[We] are attempting something brand new wrapped in a false veil of familiarity. Creating a regionally directed, ecologically sound food system that’s accessible to a broad swath can be done with integrity and with no loss of animal, farmer, or consumer welfare; and it must be done.