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Faces of Local: Al Kirchner, Co-owner of Food Matters Market

IMG_9406ASAP likes to share stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month, we’ve talked with Al Kirchner, co-owner of Food Matters Market. In the photo, Al (far left), stands with team members from their new Hickory store and soon-to-open Morganton store. To learn more about Food Matter Market, visit and like their Facebook pages (Brevard, Hickory, and soon-to-open Morganton) or browse their website.

When did you open Food Matters Market, and what have you seen change between then and now?

Mike Cianiarulo and I opened Food Matters Market in Brevard in August 2012, our Hickory store in June, 2015 and Morganton is slated for first quarter 2016.  What we’ve seen is a steady growth in shoppers who rightfully connect good eating with good health.

Can you tell us about Food Matters Market today? 

Our plan was always to be a community market, focused on a healthy lifestyle comprised of organic, local and fresh foods. And we’re right on track. Our pledge to our customers is that we do not carry products in our store that have harmful ingredients.  The specifics of this pledge are on our website and in our stores and we stand by it.

Why are local food and farms important to you?

It is important to Food Matters Market because we are the farm to table connection for our customers.  We focus on smaller communities where the partnership between community organizations and local producers is a hallmark of our mission.  We respect our farmer relationships and help them in any way we can.  We’ve helped them with certifications, qualifying for grants and in some cases we’ve served as a connection point for their CSA (community supported agriculture) programs. These local producers provide our customers with fresh, delicious food, and sometimes come and sample their products and produce in our stores.  Whatever it takes, we support local farmers and food producers 100%.

What are your favorite things about running a grocery store?

The people.  The interaction between local producers and consumers who have a sincere interest in their community and what they believe is important. Our customers are excited to meet the people who make their food. And our store team members complete the circle. Knowing what customers want and where we can get it is exciting and satisfying.

What are some of the things you appreciate about the farmers you work with through Food Matters Market?

The key is the spirit and passion they have about nurturing and producing their product.  The lifestyle they’ve chosen to bring delicious and healthy food to market is to be admired.

What impact has ASAP had on your business?

ASAP has allowed us to connect and broaden our base of potential local producers of products, both organic and local, produced in the Appalachians. ASAP has many additional benefits as well, bringing all the interested parties together to increase knowlege about what this area contributes and to help spread the local health message to different audiences.

What is your favorite local food?

There are so many!  We love the ability to have local food on our table everyday.

You recently participated in the ASAP Buyer-Grower Meeting. What was that experience like and did you meet any new farmers?

The experience allowed Food Matters Market to expand its force of local producers and meet directly with these folks.  It was a great opportunity to sit down and understand their operations and provide them with the standards and requirements that Food Matters Market has for its vendors.

How can our readers find out more about Food Matters Market?

We post our weekly and monthly special and events on our website. This week, we’d like to offer ASAP’s newsletter readers (that’s YOU) a chance to win a $30 gift card. All you have to do is LIKE one of our Facebook pages (Brevard, Hickory, and soon to open Morganton) and comment on our Facebook post that mentions ASAP. Drawings will be held December 15.