Last week the NY Times ran a long paen to the city's greenmarkets. The piece is written without any regard for the notion of competing equities: the fact that the public subsidizing of the expansion of these outlets puts them in direct competition with tax paying store owners. Where is the worthwhile promotion of a private-public partnership, one that would bring more fresh produce to New York's neighborhoods with the helpp of existing food store owners?
The promotion of these greenmarkets is part of a long tradition in this city. It is a tradition that led to the promotion, and subsidizing, of a Pathmark supermarket in East Harlem. It is a tradition that, because of its ignorance of inner city economics, fails to see the incredible contribution of immigrant entrepreneurs to the provision of good inexpensive food to low income New Yorkers.
It is a tradtion that is exemplified by Marcel Van Ooyen, the head of the Council on the Environment (the chief promoter of greenmarkets). Here's the Times and Marcel: "One question will be how to make greenmarkets wotk in what Mr. Van Ooyen calls 'food deserts'-parts of the ncity where access to freh food is limited and nutritional needs great."
Food deserts? How does Marcel know? Is this a dispatch from the front that has been sent to him by an emissary? What we need is for the City Council to convene a summit on food issues, one that includes the food retailers and their suppliers. This summit should focus on how to use the existing distribution network to improve the access to healthy food for all New Yorkers.