Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me and who left me comments about my dilemma.
There is a difference between the words "decide" and "choose." The roots of "decide" are in the same place as the words "suicide" and "homicide" and so on. It has to do with killing the alternatives. This wasn't a decision for me. I had to choose, which has much more to do with an emotional alignment: more like embracing what you do want than shoving away what you don't. And it was hard for me to think about embracing supermarkets.
I don't see it that way now...I realized I have some options that I can exercise.
When I wrote my previous post, I was dead sure I was going to have to turn down the magazine. Matt commented here, "I've learned to trust my instincts after years in the food/design business and if I'm feeling even a tad bit strange about a project or endeavor I pass. There will always be something else coming along shortly." Believe me, I know this is good advice, since I give it all the time. I usually add, "Life is too short to work with assholes," but in this case, I certainly didn't think the woman (and her art director) loving my photography made them assholes. Heh. No, the "assholes" I imagined were at the corporate level, and my kneejerk assumptions about the business were guiding my hand and heart.
A friend e-mailed (and I'll identify him if he says it's okay):
On the one hand, you could take the Joel Salatin approach - ask that you be credited, and that a pointer to your website be included in the article. Give people the chance to see if your philosophy is more humane, human and ecologically sound than the one being espoused in the newsletter.
On the other hand, I can fully get behind the "ewwwww..." It's a trade publication, so you might well be preaching to whatever the opposite of the choir is. And it's true—it's highly, highly likely that your photos will be associated with supermarket produce rather than the farmers you were shooting—most magazines won't give you the option of saying how your photos are used, and you'll probably be lucky to even get to know how they're being used prior to publication.
Maybe it's easier to just boil this down to a simple question—can you afford not to do this? If so, then don't—it's not like this is Conde Nast itself hiring you—exposure / relationship benefits are, for the moment, far from concrete. If you can't afford not to take this offer, then you should take it. Bottom line—I think you should make this decision on purely financial grounds. If you did it because you were feeling flattered or wanted the exposure, I think you'd get into a moral tangle about whether you got your priorities straight and whether the number of people coming to visit you outweighed the number of people reading the magazine and so on and so forth. On the other hand, I know this—we all need to pay rent, we all need to eat, and you need to support Logan somehow.
And it is true that I do need help with finances. My income last year is half what it was four years ago, and markedly lower than what it was even two years ago (before we started taking care of the sweet boy).
I loved Claire's comment: "Supermarkets open locations next to their competion all the time. It's standard practice in their industry. Most farmers' markets run less than 10 hours a week. On the other hand, their supermarket competitors can be open up to 24/7. If farmers' markets were really taking a toll on their profits, wouldn't they stock more local food to try and compete? The whole competition argument just doesn't hold water for me." Brilliant, and much appreciated.
Then Katie said (in the comments): "But what I have grown to realize is that sometimes it is more powerful to come alongside people who believe strongly and whisper our different belief into their ear (and inside their 'defenses') than to yell our beliefs from across a fence or to avoid those people all together." That got to working on me.
David recommended charging more than my usual and donating the rest to LocalHarvest*, but it doesn't really work like that with magazines. They have a budget, and I work with that. Besides, I'm not in a position to be making donations to other people; take my word for it. We should be getting some kind of relief soon, but for now, much needs covering that isn't being covered.
Finally, this morning, I got an e-mail from Michael Ruhlman, whom I have often mentioned in this blog. He is one of a handful of people that I sometimes call on for advice in the "moral compass" department. He wrote simply: "My local supermarket sometimes buys from small Ohio farms, so I think that it would be wrong of you not to explore ways to work with them. Think of it as infiltrating enemy lines."
Well, these women aren't my enemies: the one who's written me seems to be an actual fan. So I got to thinking that I can just request outright that she/they never use my photographs in a deceptive fashion. Meaning: don't let people think for one second that you can get this brilliant and vibrant purple cauliflower in a grocery store.
I'll see if that is acceptable to them: I can't imagine otherwise.
*About Local Harvest. I am making a pretty good donation. I won a really great contest at Platial (a scavenger photo hunt), and the grand prize was a Juice Bag, which is a backpack with solar power converters that recharge your portable wireless devices (laptops, cell phones, etcetera). And I thought Guillermo would like it—even before I heard he was in a life-threatening accident. So it arrived today, and it's going to him!
Dilemma solved, for now. I am choosing to sell photos to Supermarket News, if they still want them after this post. Heh.
Coming up soon: La Milpa Organica, Cole Canyon Farm, and a visit to Deep Roots Ranch.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other." — Erma Bombeck
Thanks for visiting.