Nazis at the Farmer's Market

A small farm in Brown County, IN that sells at the Bloomington, IN farmer’s market has recently had its owner/operators outed as members of Identity Evopra, a white-nationalist organization.

Market officials have publicly stated that their hands are tied by the first amendment and will do nothing to eject the farm as a vender.

Let me take an opportunity in this moment of mismanagement and apathy to criticize the farmer’s market as a whole: it seems the purpose of the farmer’s market is not to facilitate a sustainable and accessible local food economy; its purpose is to facilitate the appearance of progress and harmony.

The farmer’s market is an open-air secular church for liberals. It is a spectacle of decency and is the pinnacle of ethical consumerism. It’s a coliseum for idealistic local growers to compete with charm and for loyal customers, praying rain doesn’t keep them home.  

If the market’s intentions were accessibility and sustainability, it would disbar members associated with hate groups and facilitate access to local foods seven days a week. Yet its design is clear: Monday to Friday is for working, Saturday is for consuming (with the boys), and Sunday…we all know what Sundays are for.

The market in Bloomington is a selling point for the city that says, “our town is happy, healthy, and buys stuff: do business here.” 

The presence and acceptance of nazis as venders sends another message: “the safety and wellbeing of the community comes second to the appearance of tranquility.” 

Debate percolates within the community around what actions, if any, are appropriate, while national media is apparently arguing whether or not facilities detaining immigrants should be characterized as concentrations camps. 

I used to work with one of the nazi farmers. I was the opener for a co-op grocery store’s produce section, and he was the closer, so we often passed each other in clocking in or out. We didn’t talk much, but he seemed like a nice guy working to get a small family farm operational. 

It’s a shock to be in such proximity to such harmful ideology, but then again, I grew up down the street from the Pence family, who have ridden Trump’s surfboard on a wave of nationalist fervor to positions of national power. 

Fringe nationalist ideology is cousin to more mainstream patriotism and is fueled by discontent, the same as progress. The strain of inadequate material conditions, the isolation of specialization (or prison), and tendencies towards social compartmentalization make for conditions conducive to the spread of hate. 

It seems to me that the eradication of white nationalism will only be possible when the economy is no longer designed to concentrate power through competition but rather built to meet everyone’s needs through cooperation. 

The world’s been losing a lot lately. Losing species, losing glaciers, losing permafrost. Please, let’s not lose to the nazis.

Peter Oren