What is the purpose of Neighbors Market?
This question comes up more than you might expect. I asked, and continue to ask, that question from the beginning of my start-up plans and continue to ask this as the store evolves. This question comes up when I meet with advisers such as the fine people at S.C.O.R.E., the local S.B.A. consultant, and so on. It’s back in the forefront as I meet with the local university as a client with the senior class as their first term project. And it’s a good question to keep asking.
Our purpose to to make shopping simple.
This may beg the question, “How complicated can it be to buy groceries?” And that’s where Neighbors Market comes in. I started really paying attention to labels when I began trying to keep certain foods out of my son’s diet. Just by reading the labels, labels I had originally thought were just a wasted effort of “the liberals”, I entered onto a path of food awareness that culminates in this store. For me and many others, the labels were just the tip of the ice-berg.
Who grew this food?
Once I started seeing the labels, I started asking the questions about the ingredients. And I started learning who the producers of these products were. And learning about the growing conditions of the food going into the packages. And then I started learning about water systems; about water shortages. And how who’s doing the growing has a great impact on the inherent food justice.
A few times, I bought products under the belief that I was supporting a small company, or that my purchase was supporting fair trade practices and learned later that I was mistaken. I felt pretty bad; a bit deceived.
A habit of buying local is just another habit
When I was young, most food was local. Most businesses were locally owned. I lived in smaller communities most of my life. Even as I was maturing, the interstate highway systems and industrial food growing and marketing were maturing and things were changing in America, but change was slow to arrive in the communities I lived in. So, for me, buy local was just the way to buy.
What are the options?
As I became more educated and more discerning about food, I saw fewer and fewer options and less and less transparency in the main stream food systems. I realized the difficulty I was having in buying local food was probably a symptom that it was hard for farmers to sell their food locally. I felt a need for a store that offered real food, from real people, with real justice in the growing and harvesting of the food. Buying local and direct seems the surest way of knowing the truth about our food.
Neighbors is here to be local.
That’s it. Neighbors Market exists to serve people who want to grow and eat local food. That is the simplest way I can describe what Neighbors is trying to do.