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Paul Cherulnik: Northampton should not subsidize farmers markets

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To the editor:

I presume that the people who manage farmers markets and the people who sell food there make money from their efforts. And I presume that the people who sell locally grown food to stores and restaurants and those who own those businesses make money as well.

If those presumptions are correct, I don’t understand why it is being proposed that the city of Northampton donate valuable land and provide facilities for all of those people to enhance their business interests. If they are incorrect, perhaps all of those business owners should consider another line of work. And the city should most certainly not spend tax dollars to promote the sale of the most expensive food to those most able to afford it, especially since most of the business owners involved and many of their customers don’t actually live in Northampton.

If philanthropy is the objective, all of those involved, public and private, might consider directing their efforts toward feeding the poor and hungry among us who, despite the best efforts of food banks and survival centers, subsist on insufficient diets. A farmers market may be a lot of wonderful things, but it’s no place to stretch your food dollars.

Paul Cherulnik

Leeds

Related

Margaret Christie, Philip Korman: Farmers markets offer so much more than just food

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

To the editor: A letter-writer suggests that Northampton should not provide financial support to farmers markets, arguing that if farmers and markets are not covering their own costs and making a profit, they should stop growing and providing food. We respectfully disagree. There are lots of ways that individuals and communities can support farmers and farmers markets. Some are financial, … 1

I am baffled by your statement that the food sold at the farmer's market is the most expensive. Most of the time the vegetables I buy there are much lower priced than the grocery stores - in addition, people with food stamps get theirs doubled (I know the farmers themselves raise funds to help those buy more, but I may be wrong about how much more). Most of the farmers at the markets do not live extravagantly - farmers are usually at the lower income level and work many more hours than most people, often scraping a living together. Their farms are dependent on the weather, so some years they hardly make a profit. In addition, the local economy and businesses in Northampton would benefit from the people coming in to frequent the market, which in turn would help the city with increased revenue.

The photo in the article says tomotoes are $5/lb. Does that seem like alot? Sometimes things at Atkins are cheaper than Stop&Shop but lots of times when its on sale at Stop&Shop its alot cheaper especially things like local corn in the summer. I was paying $5/dozen last summer at a farmstand and I think the supermarkets were selling it for a lot less - about $3/dozen. And organic is usually twice as expensive as non organic. The last flyer from Big Y had macintosh apples that were organic at twice as much as the regular apples. You have to be rich to buy organic (after all - thats what its all about - showing off that you are better than the rest of us). Certainly there is no scientific proof that organic is heallthier for you. The tiny residue of insecticies left on traditionally grown food is not enough to hurt anyone.

You'd be against the tax breaks and incentives used to bring businesses (and jobs) to Northampton also, right?

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