Re the June 10 article Grants for farmers markets may be wasted: As one of the grantees of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program funds, I agree that there were some significant problems in implementation — primarily that funds were released way too late in our primary growing season to truly be effective and no multiyear plan was created.
There are several studies that show that improved access to healthy foods is a huge factor in improving health, despite the one study cited that contradicts this.
We see it anecdotally at the Upper Eastside Farmers Market in Miami every week where people rich and poor shop, using their Visa Platinum cards or their food stamps. Access to decent food is a right for everyone.
The subsidies that local farmers producing healthy foods receive are almost nil. Commodity crop farmers have received massive amounts of money, thus the cheap food boom that is killing us. By supporting local farmers we not only can improve our health, but we can also improve the local economy and create sustainable, dignified jobs.
By buying direct from farmers or from nonprofits, like my own that directly represent farmers, many items are cheaper and higher quality than could otherwise be purchased and affordable. What you may pay extra at the register, you’ll save in healthcare costs someday.
Like any business, many startups will fail, but some will become self-supporting. Funds from the CPPW allowed the Upper Eastside Farmers Market to thrive.
These farmers markets are engaged in stimulating a cultural shift that will not be achieved with $35,000 over five months. We are building the positive alternatives of healthy, local food that need to exist so we can begin to leave the model of dangerous, supersized fast food behind. Farmers markets are much more than vegetables on a table, they create public space for communication, health and enjoyment.
Come visit the farmers market at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 66th Street every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. year-round and see why such markets are so important.
Art Friedrich, facilitator,
South Florida Food Policy Council,