Thursday, February 02, 2006

Georgia Organics in the land of 1.75 billion chickens

What's happening with the alternative food movement in Georgia, and especially Athens, home of the University of Georgia.....

I just talked to a woman who works for Georgia Organics, an organization in Georgia that supports organic farmers and farmers who use sustainable practices but may not be certified organic. Sara Kate and I will be at Earth Fare in Athens Georgia (home of University of Georgia) on February 6 from 4:00 to 7:00 and at UGA's Great American Meatout on March 20, sponsored by Speak Out for Species (see for details later about our presentation).

But anyway, the person at Georgia Organics told me that Georgia doesn't have nearly as many hogs as North Carolina, but has more chickens than any state in the US - 1.75 billion broilers every year. Whoa, is that right? That's what she said. She said corporate chicken farms are particularly numerous around Athens, and that their waste drains into the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the Oconee River, which I've rafted with my family. Beautiful wilderness areas. She said in Georgia there is a law that keeps chicken farmers who raise fewer than 20,000 birds per year from marketing their birds to the public. So that knocks out small farmers who might raise a few chickens at pasture, unless they want to take a risk and sell the birds on the sly to their neighbors. All the chicken in Georgia has to be produced by factory farms owned by corporations like Tyson, Goldkist, Perdue, etc. That's bad. I'm a vegetarian, but I do believe that for folks who eat meat, it's so much better for the animals and for the environment to buy pasture-raised animal products. Rather than products from animals raised in misery, crammed into stinking crowded dark warehouse-like buildings. We describe our visits to such miserable places in Veggie Revolution.

In the Athens area, Farm 255 is a restaurant that uses locally grown produce. Full Moon Farm is one farm that provides produce to that restaurant; they also offer CSAs to consumers. A CSA is a yearly agreement, where the consumer pays the farm a yearly amount, and the farm delivers a box of produce to that consumer every week. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

Athens also has a coop for consumers who want local and/or organic produce: The contact person fo the coop is Eric at 706 245 9774. Another person in Athens told me that Athens has a coop called Daily Groceries Coop.

Georgia Organics is offering a sustainable ag conference on Feb 10 and 11. They're working on a brochure to go out this spring that will be a statewide guide to sustainable producers who market their food to their local communities. Visit their website to find out how to get the brochure or to learn more about the conference.

I just found out today about the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. Need to do some research about that.

If you have more tips about the movement for a healthy, humane, and environmentally sound food system in the Georgia area, please post comments or email us. We want to be ready for our Georgia visits in March and April. We'd love to come to your community too and talk about factory farming, and the alternative food movement. It's gaining steam! Email us at

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