Slow Food Upstate Convivium's farmers' market has been officially welcomed into the Earth Markets network by Slow Food USA.
You can find out more about the Greenville Earth Market on this page.
Below is the story of the market by Janette Wesley, taken from the Slow Food USA blog.
Our chapter ran into a large dilemma when we were developing plans for the market which became our primary reason to see the realization of the project. At first we had reservations about starting a market in Greenville because our region has many established markets. As Earth Markets have a strict no-GMO policy, we began to discover, to our astonishment, there were no producers in the entire southeastern USA making a non-GMO animal feed. Therefore, many otherwise good producers of meat, cheese, poultry, and eggs were knocked out of the application process.
Although many farmers who raise animals or use animal products in their foods would be interested in being GMO-free, the closest source of non-GMO animal feed is in Ohio, rendering it too expensive and logistically complicated to be a viable feed option. We also discovered that "Certified Organic" gives an option if non-gmo feed is not available or too cost prohibitive to allow for GMO animal feed to be included under the certification, and we felt the consumer had a right to this information.
However as a result of our conversations, and the discovery of how widespread the conundrum goes, we now have formed a small group of producers who are looking for ways to manage this problem, and have an apple grower in North Carolina who has grown this summer non-GMO corn for feed, and which is now ready to harvest and mill.
Also we discovered a distributor in NC who is willing to organize a bulk shipment that can be brought to the market for farms to purchase in bulk, therefore lowering the costs. Other ideas coming from the group and our meeting have been to create a farm-to-farm CSA for non-GMO animal feed products.
We already realized the extent of interest in biodiversity in our area as a result of an Ark of Taste dinner we held earlier which sold-out to capacity. Within the boundaries of the "Upstate" of S.C. or the 10 counties that make up our local chapter, we have local farms that produce in one way or the other, up to 54 of the 200 Ark of Taste products in the USA. The issue of biodiversity is not only important to Slow Food but to the people who shop at our market. No other source can tell consumers directly that the farm is doing exactly what they say they are doing, which in a sense "Labels" them as non-GMO farms, and gives them direct producer to consumer information with regards to rare breeds of animals in danger of extinction or rare plants with specific historical ties to our region. Slow Food USA has a vital role to play in education for biodiversity. Within the structure of the Earth Markets, bio-diverse products like those on the US Ark of Taste and Presidia products are encouraged and take precedence, and within our community are sought like a hunt for rare treasure.
The Earth Markets project is ready to explode in the USA. Slow Food Upstate has had calls from a couple of other Slow Food chapters who are interested and even a farm in California. Earth Markets are an excellent way of creating an outlet for non-GMO foods to honor the great folks who produce them and give consumers a guaranteed place to buy these foods.
Although we are just beginning this Earth Market, the difference is amazing. If this is able to spread across the country, we will have a major food foot in the door towards education and choice towards non-GMO foods and in the education may have a chance to turn the tide on GMO's and the risks they pose to the health of animals, humans, and planet Earth.
What lies ahead for the Upstate South Carolina Earth Market?
-They have applied for EBT machines to ensure people of all income levels have access to the market's good, clean, and fair food.
-They are working with local soup kitchens and food banks to arrange to donate leftover food.