Slow Food International has begun to develop Earth Markets, which are agricultural markets operated by small-scale farmers that produce sustainable, affordable, and locally grown foods. The markets offer meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and other whole foods, depending on what grows naturally in a market’s region. Currently, there are only two in the United States, but Slow Food is expanding the network.
Farmers in Earth Markets have demonstrated that they uphold the “good, clean, and fair” tenets of Slow Food. However, they are additionally concerned with community development and the social benefits of a Slow Food system. Part of the mission of the Earth Market is to cultivate a community that will, in turn, foster the growth of the market itself:
“By creating a group of linked and united producers’ markets – of varied cultural, geographical, rural or urban, or social contexts – we build support for the common Slow Food principles that they share and are guided by. At the same time, the diversity and unique character of each market is respected.”
Producers who sell their goods in Earth Markets are smallholder and artisan farmers who are committed to charging reasonable prices for their products and engaging in fair labor treatment practices. They must also operate within a set radius of the Earth Market in which they participate, and only sell products that they grow or create themselves.
The majority of Earth Markets are currently located in Italy. However, markets have also sprung up in Austria, Bulgaria, Israel, Lebanon, Romania, Turkey, and the United States. You can find a full list of operative markets here. The two markets in the United States are located in San Juan, PR and Greenville, SC, which opened in March 2010 and September 2011, respectively. The Greenville Earth Market, for example, sells customarily American Southern produce, such as okra, collard greens, kale, and melons. Meats are locally sourced from Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste-approved producers, including Ossabaw Island hogs, Navajo-Churro sheep, and Bourbon Red turkeys.