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Farmer’s markets and luxuries October 20, 2009

Posted by bibliosk8er in sustainability, urban/suburban life.
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Saw this on a thread on the message board of kunstlercast.com, relating to the recent podcast there about food. One of the participants brings up some common objections to farmer’s markets as being mostly for the wealthy. I enjoyed Duncan’s (the host) reply. I think he’s exactly right.

Quote from: jarober on October 01, 2009, 03:42:32 PM

What you miss is simple: farmer’s markets are expensive luxury items, not a sustainable way to feed a large population.  For that matter, being a vegetarian by choice is an affectation of wealthy socities; poorer ones grabat tge (rare) opportunities for meat. 

There’s also this: “eating locally” means giving up on a lot of very healthy foods during off seasons – say hello to a whole range of banished 19th century nutrition problems.  If modern habits are so bad for us, how does life expectancy keep rising?

The whole farmers market-as-luxury argument makes me laugh.  Most of the really high prices at the farmers’ market are literally for “luxury” items — like fancy cheese, or gourmet peanut butter. Those items are priced as luxury items — DUH!

But I find that most of the food is reasonably priced. Although I do make it a habit of looking around before I buy. One farmer might be charging more or less for the same item.

Either way, you get what you pay for in terms of nutrition.  The eggs I buy at my local farmers market cost more than the runny, nutritionally-vacuous factory farm eggs at the supermarket. But they cost the same as the “organic” eggs in the supermarket. So I’d rather buy them from farmers who live in my community and whom I see every week.*

A lot of people who bitch and moan about the cost of food at farmers’ markets have X-boxes, plasma tvs, huge DVD collections, big houses and big cars out in the burbs. They have Jet Skis for the summer and Ski Doos for the winter. They take the kids to Walley World (or Six Flags or Disney World) once a year. Etc. Etc.

One of their favorite delusions is to pretend they can’t afford things like food at the farmers’ market because they’re just hard workin’ middle class folks who don’t have money for that fancy “green” food. That is their verbal patriotic totem. We’re not supposed to make them feel bad because they “can’t afford” to shop at the farmers’ market.

But the reality is that they can afford to shop at the farmers’ market. They just don’t want to. They don’t want to deal with the human interaction. And they don’t want to spend money on local food when they could be spending their money on trinkets at Target.

They could skip one meal at a restaurant per week and spend it on the “additional” cost of farmer’s market food. They could not buy that DVD set of Lost Season 5. They could cancel their cable subscription. They could carpool. They could pass on buying that nifty plastic banana slicer that they’ve had their eyes on at Wal Mart.

There are million ways they could make up for the “extra” cost of shopping at the farmers market. And in doing so they could also be help out their local farmers who usually belong to the real middle class in this country.

As far as the seasonal thing goes. If you need to supplement your winter diet with Frankenberries and Frankenanas, then go for it dude! Don’t use that as an argument not to shop at the farmers market at all!

My city has a year-round farmers market. And there’s an amazing amount of great fresh food available during the winter. The greens are grown in green houses. Some of the fruits — like the apples, have been frozen.

As far as life expectancy goes, if you believe that the corn syrup generation will outlive the previous generation then by all means…. dig in brother.

(* Another thing to consider: When I support my local farmer, I am also helping to pay for them to help conserve the agricultural landscape which I enjoy looking at and being in. I’m helping them keep the cul de sacs out of the country. Which also helps my city in many ways.)

« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 08:07:02 PM by Duncan »

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