Food Stamps & Farmers’ Markets

With so much animosity in the cyber-US this week, I almost hesitate to post this. But I got a nice lift last Saturday on walking into the Tribeca Greenmarket and spotting this blackboard. I had headed there with all of $19 in my wallet and no ATM for blocks but walked out with everything I needed: fish (striped bass from Blue Moon, in fact), corn, peaches and even shisito peppers. And I liked the notion that even those who depend on food stamps could have spent the same amount and gotten even more, thanks to this bonus program. I squander way too much of my life online, and on “legit” newspapers and magazines where the narrative seems to be that only the desperately poor need help with food and that when they accept that care they become dependent on the government dole. So this was a great reminder that foods stamps kick the benefits in two directions. The people who get them can both nourish themselves/their families and contribute to society. And everyone who sells food gets, in essence, a government subsidy while keeping shoppers nourished enough to come shopping next Saturday. I always get push-back on the notion of how useful food stamps are at stereotypically overpriced farmers’ markets. To which I’ll respond that a huge proportion of the people buying at my neighborhood Greenmarket are cashing in SNAP coupons. And even in a super-rich neighborhood like Tribeca, the nannies who rock the rich cradles gotta eat, too.

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