From the April 2004 Idaho Observer:
Returning to farmers markets
Farmers markets could rebuild the American way of life
The supermarket is one of the most successful corporate inventions of all time, superceded only by the superstore evolution ala Fred Meyer and Wal-Mart. Since supermarkets were introduced into American culture in the 1950s, most Americans had all but abandoned small grocers, bakers and butchers for the convenience of one-stop shopping.
The trend appears to be reversing. Increasing general distrust of large corporations, combined with growing concern that prepackaged foods contain toxic chemicals that extend shelf life, while diminishing human life, is causing many Americans to more carefully consider the quality of their food. When one makes the decision to choose quality over convenience, the natural progression is to patronize farmers' markets and find, once again, the joy of supporting your local merchants and their fresh, less adulterated goods.
by Bob Nicholson
The Industrial Revolution in America is over. In 1900 there were massive growth industries opening up with everything imaginable.
The most recent growth wave has been in personal computers and cellular phones. However, today we may have achieved a saturation level in growth with nothing new on the horizon. Most products have been as technically advanced as necessary and only bells and whistles are added each year.
On top of this, NAFTA and GATT have opened the door for our manufacturing industries to move to countries with cheap labor and lax government regulations, taking our jobs with them. Now we are even seeing outsourcing of the service sector of our economy, including high paid engineering and information technology jobs, to countries such as India, South Africa, Singapore and China.
Wal-Mart has been expanding into supercenters in our rural communities, driving more and more of our small businesses out of existence and; resource-based industries such as logging and mining are employing fewer people each year.
Powerful multinational corporate and global governance forces beyond our control have brought us full circle. Our future survival as people and as communities will depend upon each other. It is now time to come back home and localize our economic potential within our own communities.
One way to begin can be expanding our farmers markets into permanent establishments. People have been turning more and more to crafts and small farms or gardens, however, most rural farmers markets are only open one day a week.
Many of us have been to the Pike Place Market in Seattle, or a Barter/Street Faire, and loved them. This is the type of atmosphere that needs to be cultivated in communities. Thriving people oriented markets, just as we see at traditional markets in foreign countries, are much more exciting than impersonal shopping malls superstores.
Why should we support producers of chemically toxic corporate raised beef, poultry and produce, shipped from various parts of the world, when we can buy it from local producers? Why should we poison ourselves on prepackaged and processed foods when we can buy them fresh from local suppliers?
We are social beings and need a gathering place that has the activity of an open market. Actively supporting our local farmers markets will allow them to expand into thriving affairs, attracting more vendors, while also benefiting main-street businesses.
It's time to fight back against the transnational corporate institutions that are consuming us!
Our obsession with the convenience of supermarketeering (and television) has destroyed America's community spirit. By bringing the farmer's markets back into our lives, by both buying and selling, we become reacquainted with our neighbors and our sense of community begins to rebuild itself in a most positive way.
Following is a list of items that can be traded (using dollars or the barter system) at farmers markets:
Home-grown produce . . . Local poultry and beef . . . Baked goods, jams and ciders ... Soaps . . . Pottery ... Leather crafts ... Handmade baskets ... Paintings ... Wood carvings ... Metal crafts... Handmade furniture ... Handmade jewelry ... Quilting/sewing crafts ... Handmade rugs ... Food stands.
The marketplace can also reserve areas for classes on anything from natural healing to organic gardening to internet selling. Areas can also be designated for musicians to play music and for kids to just play.
Using the advantages of soil and climate to trade items such as bananas or cotton for example, is fine, but shipping manufactured products halfway around the world to another industrial society, when that region has the surplus resources and labor to produce its own, is economic insanity.
There is no gain to the world in destroying an already efficiently operating factory and rebuilding an identical one elsewhere because the corporate mercantilists wish to move to areas with cheap labor, no environmental protection laws, or adequate taxes to build and maintain social infrastructures.
In the long term, if a perfectly operational, locally-owned factory continued producing instead of being bought out, dismantled and its operations transferred overseas, the productive capacity of those manufacturers would be double through payment of adequate wages so labor could have buying power. In this manner, the circulation of money is continually recycled in the local economy, increasing the buying power of those who participate. As it stands now, money is spent and sucked out of the local economy to corporate offices out of state and, therefore contributing directly to the general impoverishment of the community.
It is only natural that industry strives to maximize profits, however, today's policies only look efficient because the primary measurement used is the corporate bottom line, which measures not only their productivity, but also their excessive accumulation of wealth, siphoned from underpaid workers. A vicious cycle, fueled by greed, has evolved into a race to the bottom of the economic heap, where our standard of living will someday equal that of third world countries.
Further, our nation was founded as a constitutionally limited republic, favoring a restricted governmental role in social and economic life. Somewhere, though, America became a stealth democracy for which there is no historical or constitutional basis.
Nowhere does the word democracy appear in our founding documents. To the contrary, Article IV, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution is quite clear: The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a Republican Form of Government. ( . . . and to the Republic for which it stands).
Democrat or Republican are defined as: Republican 1: one that favors or supports a republican form of government 2: favoring a republic.
Democrat 1: an adherent of democracy.
Since neither party platform currently represents their true principles and there is little difference between the two, perhaps we should revert back to just the Democratic-Republican Party, formed in 1792 by Thomas Jefferson, to oppose the Federalists.
Finally, county government is the basic building block of our republican form of government. That building block has been voided. By accepting federal funding and/or grants, our counties and towns are now subject to federal mandates, superceding local laws and ordinances, reversing the intended order where the People are to be masters of government servants.
We need to take our country back one town at a time, one county at a time and one purchase at a time. Stop accepting the federal handouts and stop shopping at the Wal-Mart-type corporate chains. If you cannot find U.S. made products, buy second hand if possible. Finally, vote out elected officials who favor anti-American policies such as NAFTA or GATT, and war profiteering.
Note: Globalization is nothing but an agreement among the elites to exploit the resources and cheap labor of the world. Hatred of the U.S. is the result, leading to terrorism and war, while securing profits for the weapons manufacturers, the building contractors to rebuild destroyed infrastructures, the bankers to whom we become indebted to pay for this and finally, control of the resources as the spoils. Americans are complicit in this horrible scenario every time a purchase is made from the corporations that exploit the labor and resources of foreign countries.
Food is power. We use it to change behavior. Some may call that bribery. We do not apologize.
~Catherine Bertini, executive director of the World Food Program, Sept., 1995
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