Monday, August 25, 2008

Anti-Immigrant Policy

I just finished a compelling chapter in Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars (right before getting kicked out the library at closing time - maybe I should just buy a copy of this book...).  The end of the chapter left a disappointing and sour taste in my mouth.  

After weeks of successful boycotting and rioting, the price of food started to fall.  And then the city took its first and only official action: they passed legislation that stipulated that NYC peddler's licenses could only be issued to citizens of the United States.  Two hundred older Jewish men protested to no avail.  The Commission felt there were too many peddlers and so used discrimination and xenophobia to try and eliminate immigrants from the marketplace.  It also meant that consumers were increasingly at the mercy of those who could afford storefronts, which many times meant corporations.  This legislation really set the stage for corporate control of the marketplace.

This outcome made me think of the global food market as it exists today.  Today's big players aren't the farms/farmers, it's the corporations who distribute food.  Today food is exported and imported across the world and all too often, even though there are farmers in New Jersey producing perfectly good tomatoes, you're probably eating ones shipped in from California.  


Because growing vegetables doesn't pay.  Shipping them does.  (For further reading on this topic, I recommend Stuffed and Starved; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Omnivore's Dilemma.)

I found it interesting though, that nearly 100 years later, we seem to be coming full circle.  The local marketplace seems to be thriving again, made desirable and viable by the green movement.  

In regards to food and buying locally, I have recently joined a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture.  Basically, you buy a share of vegetables (or in my case, vegetables, fruit and flowers) and pay for it in full at the beginning of the growing season.  Each week, the farmer who in exchange delivers fresh produce to our neighborhood.  It's an amazing way to get fresh food grown by people who are fairly compensated for their work.  Shout out to Windflower Farm!  

There's probably one in your neighborhood!  Here's the link for Just Food and CSA's in NYC.

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