Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Problems of Farmers Markets for the Poor

From the experience of an LA market:
"On a recent visit to the Harambee site, there were few visible signs of a vibrant farmers market. There were only three booths, with only one — Williamson’s — providing fresh fruits and vegetables.
Several years ago, the area was booming with Black farmers and produce. But according to Williamson, who set up shop there three years ago, many of the farmers either died, were too old to continue farming, moved on to flourishing farmers markets like the one in Hollywood, or simply could no longer afford it."
In part it's the old problem of a vicious circle, one problem feeds on another which feeds on another.  Minorities don't have the income, so they focus on the cheapest calories, which are unhealthiest, meaning more sickness, and since they are less likely to have health insurance (except Medicaid in some cases) they get worse, meaning they're less reliable workers, meaning more likely to be fired, meaning less income, meaning no cars, etc. etc.  All of which means poor returns for those who try to serve the minority market.

And, in today's Times, there was an article on a development in the Bronx, where there's a fight over including a supermarket.  As best I can tell, a supermarket is needed, but there's already a small chain in the Bronx which has cemented alliances with community activists, and is opposing the additional competition.

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