Dear Editor: Madison County has great potential to be the area’s most forward-thinking county. We have excellent natural resources, room to grow, and people who are willing to work. But our small communities and rural areas lack one of the most essentials: accessible healthful food. The irony here is that we are a rural county, and we have people who know how to grow healthy food — from vegetables to beef, chicken, pork and lamb. America’s grocery system is largely based on long-distance shipping and storage, centralized distribution, and corporate ownership, so locally owned grocery stores are hard to come by. As residents of Comer, my family and I must get in the car and drive all the way to Ingles in Hull on Hwy. 29, 12 miles, or six miles to the Market Place in Danielsville just to get fresh fruits or vegetables.
As we consider the growth coming from the Athens area and in the northwest corner from the Commerce area, we should look at finding ways to focus our commercial endeavors at the local level, supporting the residents of Comer, Colbert, Carlton, and all the small communities around us. This is a way to keep us uniquely agricultural while providing produce to local markets.