We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday nor is this our first visit to The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. We sure got smacked with a healthy dose of vegan elitism though and I’m still reeling from it.
When The Farm, a hippie commune developed by a caravan of bus traveling hippies was originally established in the early 1970’s, veganism ruled. The commune is no longer as active or bound by the original ideals as it once was. The commune’s population boomed to about 1600 in its heyday but the growth was unsustainable. There weren’t enough jobs in the rural Tennessee area to support the communal residents and interest waned over time. About 160 people still live at the commune today, some new and some original residents but some have chosen to stick to what they know. We’ve never been given a hard time about our meat-eating habits when we stay at the farm but the woman running The Farm Store ruined that streak yesterday.
The Farm Store is a warm, cozy general store and central meeting spot for many who live on The Farm’s 1500 acre commune. It’s a place to meet up with friends, make new acquaintances, grab a snack or find that obscure natural food item you’ve been on the hunt for. In years past, we know we’ve been able to get a fresh plate lunch whipped up at the store’s counter. That’s why when we had an appointment to meet a documentary photographer there, we thought it would be a good opportunity to grab a bite to eat.
When I walked up to the counter I immediately noticed the blackboard menu, usually artistically written in several different colors of chalk and propped on the back wall of the store, was missing. I asked the woman (not the usual storekeeper we’ve befriended over the years) if she had a menu for the day. She just looked at me bright-eyed and laughed.
“We don’t have a menu here,” she quipped. “I didn’t make soup today but there is chili in the cooler that was left over from yesterday. There are also some pre-made black bean burgers and things in there too.”
Needless to say we were confused and disappointed and this woman didn’t help the situation. There was no namaste here. I resorted to poking through the frozen foods section, looking for anything we might be interested in microwaving for our lunch. Meanwhile the woman behind the counter continued chortling away in her own blissful bubble.
“That’s just so funny,” she said, forking her own food on a plate behind the counter. “I think you are only the second person who has ever asked me for a menu.”
Sensing the pregnancy hormone rage beginning to ooze out of Homestead Hottie’s pores, I explained that we had stopped in for a wrap or sandwich a couple times before on previous visits to the farm 2 to 3 years ago.
“No, we’ve never served food here,” she continued. “I wish!”
At this point there was no holding back the pregnant lady. “I’ve definitely had a tuna sandwich or something here before,” Talina insisted.
“No, nope, not here,” the storekeeper shot back. “We’ve never served meat or fish or sandwiches here. This is only a vegan community and we only serve vegan food. You must have been visiting someplace else.”
Well then, we had certainly been told and the shopkeeper wasn’t going to stop telling us as long as we were in The Farm Store. Her vegan elitism attitude was ruling this roost and she was going to go ahead and mock us as the outsiders we are. It’s truly uncharacteristic of anyone at The Farm. We’ve never encountered this type of attitude from the dozens and dozens of commune residents we’ve met and befriended over the years. They’re all so accepting with the exception of this woman.
There were no usual questions about where we were from or why we were there, just snide and snippy vegan elitism. Yet, sitting in a woven basket marked clearance on one of the store tables were two bottles of pancake syrup. The main ingredients in both: high-fructose corn syrup. That made me chuckle a bit on our way out the door, in search of someone else to serve us lunch. “How’s that for irony,” I thought to myself.
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