Greenwashing

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with how difficult it is to be a small farm in a world with big advertising and marketing. I’m not just talking about our little rookie farm–just going into our second year of production–but looking at all of the other farmers and small producers that are working hard to make an honest living. All the while, these folks are competing with HUGE marketing budgets of companies like Kraft, Kellogg, Nestle, Dean and Cargill that like to wax poetic about just how organic and local their subsidiary companies are while they fill their pockets.

Sunrise on a frosty morning

I’m not trying to romanticize being a small producer or food artisan–I just believe that these companies should be called out for what they really are–really large corporations without any  connection to producing food in a genuinely organic or local way. Why try to take away value from folks who are really organic and really local and ‘green’? Why pick on the little guy?

I am going off on this tangent because I recently contacted the Green Street Fair in Plymouth that gives lip service to ‘green living’. This fair is a weekend event in which businesses, artists and non-profits are supposedly coming together to educate the community about being ‘green’. Their mission is stated on their website as follows:
The Green Street Fair was founded to help educate and inform people of all ages about the benefits of green, organic, and eco-friendly products and services. To promote global interest and personal well-being, the Green Street Fair will blend companies, artisans, entertainers, and speakers together in a friendly and family-oriented outdoor environment. We believe that even the smallest steps in going green can make a world of difference.
Now, I contacted these folks because we sell at the farmers market in Plymouth and I thought having a table there would help promote our small organic farm and also promote the farmers market there. They replied that a table costs $350-$650 for the weekend. What kind of ‘small step’ does that amount illustrate for promoting  sustainability? Sounds like an opportunity for some folks to make money off of a bunch of ‘green’ companies.  We don’t pay $350 for a season of selling at any one farmers market (that is over 24 weeks)!!! There is a reason for this—farming is hard, our budgets are tight and we don’t have cash to throw around.

If they really wanted to support a green future and were less concerned about making bank–they’d be inviting a crowd like us small producers that are already doing this important work. Perhaps if enough folks choose to not participate in this event or complain that all of the food producers are people like–Costco Wholesale–well, maybe things will change.

To really drive home the point, the Homegrown Festival is the complete antithesis of what I’m going on about. This is a festival devoted to local producers and coincidentally being ‘green’. At least someone has it right. Now if other towns would just catch on…

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